History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814
F. A. M. Mignet

Part 4 out of 8

captivity, subject to every description of privation, kept in ignorance of
the state of his country and of liberty, with no prospect before him but
that of perpetual and harsh imprisonment, he displayed the most heroic
courage. He might have obtained his liberty by making certain
retractations, but he preferred remaining buried in his dungeon to
abandoning in the least degree the sacred cause he had embraced.

There have been in our day few lives more pure than Lafayette's; few
characters more beautiful; few men whose popularity has been more justly
won and longer maintained. After defending liberty in America at the side
of Washington, he desired to establish it in the same manner in France;
but this noble part was impossible in our revolution. When a people in the
pursuit of liberty has no internal dissension, and no foes but foreigners,
it may find a deliverer; may produce, in Switzerland a William Tell, in
the Netherlands a prince of Orange, in America a Washington; but when it
pursues it against its own countrymen and foreigners, at once amidst
factions and battles, it can only produce a Cromwell or a Bonaparte, who
become the dictators of revolutions when the struggle subsides and parties
are exhausted. Lafayette, an actor in the first epoch of the crisis,
enthusiastically declared for its results. He became the general of the
middle class, at the head of the national guard under the constituent
assembly, in the army under the legislative assembly. He had risen by it,
and he would end with it. It may be said of him, that if he committed some
faults of position, he had ever but one object, liberty, and that he
employed but one means, the law. The manner in which, when yet quite
young, he devoted himself to the deliverance of the two worlds, his
glorious conduct and his invariable firmness, will transmit his name with
honour to posterity, with whom a man cannot have two reputations, as in
the time of party, but his own alone.

The authors of the events of the 10th of August became more and more
divided, having no common views as to the results which should arise from
that revolution. The more daring party, which had got hold of the commune
or municipality, wished by means of that commune to rule Paris; by means
of Paris, the national assembly; and by means of the assembly, France.
After having effected the transference of Louis XVI. to the Temple, it
threw down all the statues of the kings, and destroyed all the emblems of
the monarchy. The department exercised a right of superintendence over the
municipality; to be completely independent, it abrogated this right. The
law required certain conditions to constitute a citizen; it decreed the
cessation of these, in order that the multitude might be introduced into
the government of the state. At the same time, it demanded the
establishment of an extraordinary tribunal to try _the conspirators of the
10th of August_. As the assembly did not prove sufficiently docile, and
endeavoured by proclamations to recall the people to more just and
moderate sentiments, it received threatening messages from the Hôtel de
Ville. "As a citizen," said a member of the commune, "as a magistrate of
the people, I come to announce to you that this evening, at midnight, the
tocsin will sound, the drum beat to arms. The people are weary of not
being avenged; tremble lest they administer justice themselves." "If,
before two or three hours pass, the foreman of the jury be not named,"
said another, "and if the jury be not itself in a condition to act, great
calamities will befall Paris." To avert the threatened outbreaks, the
assembly was obliged to appoint an extraordinary criminal tribunal. This
tribunal condemned a few persons, but the commune having conceived the
most terrible projects, did not consider it sufficiently expeditious.

At the head of the commune were Marat, Panis, Sergent, Duplain, Lenfent,
Lefort, Jourdeuil, Collot d'Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, Tallien, etc.; but
the chief leader of the party at that time was Danton. He, more than any
other person, had distinguished himself on the 10th of August. During the
whole of that night he had rushed about from the sections to the barracks
of the Marseillais and Bretons, and from these to the Faubourgs. A member
of the revolutionary commune, he had directed its operations, and had
afterwards been appointed minister of justice.

Danton was a gigantic revolutionist; he deemed no means censurable so they
were useful, and, according to him, men could do whatever they dared
attempt. Danton, who has been termed the Mirabeau of the populace bore a
physical resemblance to that tribune of the higher classes; he had
irregular features, a powerful voice, impetuous gesticulation, a daring
eloquence, a lordly brow. Their vices, too, were the same; only Mirabeau's
were those of a patrician, Danton's those of a democrat; that which there
was of daring in the conceptions of Mirabeau, was to be found in Danton,
but in another way, because, in the revolution, he belonged to another
class and another epoch. Ardent, overwhelmed with debts and wants, of
dissolute habits, given up now to his passions, now to his party, he was
formidable while in the pursuit of an object, but became indifferent as
soon as he had obtained it. This powerful demagogue presented a mixture of
the most opposite vices and qualities. Though he had sold himself to the
court, he did not seem sordid; he was one of those who, so to speak, give
an air of freedom even to baseness. He was an absolute exterminator,
without being personally ferocious; inexorable towards masses, humane,
generous even towards individuals. [Footnote: At the time the commune was
arranging the massacre of the 2nd September, he saved all who applied to
him; he, of his own accord, released from prison Duport, Barnave, and Ch.
Lameth, his personal antagonists.] Revolution, in his opinion, was a game
at which the conqueror, if he required it, won the life of the conquered.
The welfare of his party was, in his eyes, superior to law and even to
humanity; this will explain his endeavours after the 10th of August, and
his return to moderation when he considered the republic established.

At this period the Prussians, advancing on the plan of invasion described
above, passed the frontier, after a march of twenty days. The army of
Sedan was without a leader, and incapable of resisting a force so superior
in numbers and so much better organised. On the 20th of August, Longwy was
invested by the Prussians; on the 21st it was bombarded, and on the 24th
it capitulated. On the 30th the hostile army arrived before Verdun,
invested it, and began to bombard it. Verdun taken, the road to the
capital was open. The capture of Longwy, and the approach of so great a
danger, threw Paris into the utmost agitation and alarm. The executive
council, composed of the ministers, was summoned by the committee of
general defence, to deliberate on the best measures to be adopted in this
perilous conjuncture. Some proposed to wait for the enemy under the walls
of the capital, others to retire to Saumur. "You are not ignorant," said
Danton, when his turn to speak arrived, "that France is Paris; if you
abandon the capital to the foreigner, you surrender yourselves, and you
surrender France. It is in Paris that we must defend ourselves by every
possible means. I cannot sanction any plan tending to remove you from it.
The second project does not appear to me any better. It is impossible to
think of fighting under the walls of the capital. The 10th of August has
divided France into two parties, the one attached to royalty, the other
desiring a republic. The latter, the decided minority of which in the
state cannot be concealed, is the only one on which you can rely to fight;
the other will refuse to march; it will excite Paris in favour of the
foreigner, while your defenders, placed between two fires, will perish in
repelling him. Should they fall, which seems to me beyond a doubt, your
ruin and that of France are certain; if, contrary to all expectation, they
return victorious over the coalition, this victory will still be a defeat
for you; for it will have cost you thousands of brave men, while the
royalists, more numerous than you, will have lost nothing of their
strength and influence. It is my opinion, that to disconcert their
measures and stop the enemy, we must make the royalists fear." The
committee, at once understanding the meaning of these words, were thrown
into a state of consternation. "Yes, I tell you," resumed Danton, "we must
make them fear." As the committee rejected this proposition by a silence
full of alarm, Danton concerted with the commune. His aim was to put down
its enemies by terror, to involve the multitude more and more by making
them his accomplices, and to leave the revolution no other refuge than

Domiciliary visits were made with great and gloomy ceremony; a large
number of persons whose condition, opinions, or conduct rendered them
objects of suspicion, were thrown into prison. These unfortunate persons
were taken especially from the two dissentient classes, the nobles and the
clergy, who were charged with conspiracy under the legislative assembly.
All citizens capable of bearing arms were enrolled in the Champ de Mars,
and departed on the first of September for the frontier. The générale was
beat, the tocsin sounded, cannon were fired, and Danton, presenting
himself to the assembly to report the measures taken to save the country,
exclaimed: "The cannon you hear are no alarm cannon, but the signal for
attacking the enemy! To conquer them, to prostrate them, what is
necessary? Daring, again daring, and still again and ever daring!"
Intelligence of the taking of Verdun arrived during the night of the 1st
of September. The commune availed themselves of this moment, when Paris,
filled with terror, thought it saw the enemy already at its gates, to
execute their fearful projects. The cannon were again fired, the tocsin
sounded, the barriers were closed, and the massacre began.

During three days, the prisoners confined in the Carmes, the Abbaye, the
Conciergérie, the Force, etc., were slaughtered by a band of about three
hundred assassins, directed and paid by the commune. This body, with a
calm fanaticism, prostituting to murder the sacred forms of justice, now
judges, now executioners, seemed rather to be practising a calling than to
be exercising vengeance; they massacred without question, without remorse,
with the conviction of fanatics and the obedience of executioners. If some
peculiar circumstances seemed to move them, and to recall them to
sentiments of humanity, to justice, and to mercy, they yielded to the
impression for a moment, and then began anew. In this way a few persons
were saved; but they were very few. The assembly desired to prevent the
massacres, but were unable to do so. The ministry were as incapable as the
assembly; the terrible commune alone could order and do everything;
Pétion, the mayor, had been cashiered; the soldiers placed in charge of
the prisoners feared to resist the murderers, and allowed them to take
their own course; the crowd seemed indifferent, or accomplices; the rest
of the citizens dared not even betray their consternation. We might be
astonished that so great a crime should, with such deliberation, have been
conceived, executed, and endured, did we not know what the fanaticism of
party will do, and what fear will suffer. But the chastisement of this
enormous crime fell at last upon the heads of its authors. The majority of
them perished in the storm they had themselves raised, and by the same
violent means that they had themselves employed. Men of party seldom
escape the fate they have made others undergo.

The executive council, directed, as to military operations by general
Servan, advanced the newly-levied battalions towards the frontier. As a
man of judgment, he was desirous of placing a general at the threatened
point; but the choice was difficult. Among the generals who had declared
in favour of the late political events, Kellermann seemed only adapted for
a subordinate command, and the authorities had therefore merely placed him
in the room of the vacillative and incompetent Luckner. Custine was but
little skilled in his art; he was fit for any dashing _coup de main_, but
not for the conduct of a great army intrusted with the destiny of France.
The same military inferiority was chargeable upon Biron, Labourdonnaie,
and the rest, who were therefore left at their old stations, with the
corps under their command. Dumouriez alone remained, against whom the
Girondists still retained some rancour, and in whom they, moreover,
suspected the ambitious views, the tastes, and character of an adventurer,
while they rendered justice to his superior talents. However, as he was
the only general equal to so important a position, the executive council
gave him the command of the army of the Moselle.

Dumouriez repaired in all haste from the camp at Maulde to that of Sedan.
He assembled a council of war, in which the general opinion was in favour
of retiring towards Châlons or Rheims, and covering themselves with the
Marne. Far from adopting this dangerous plan, which would have discouraged
the troops, given up Lorraine, Trois Evêchés, and a part of Champagne, and
thrown open the road to Paris, Dumouriez conceived a project full of
genius. He saw that it was necessary, by a daring march, to advance on the
forest of Argonne, where he might infallibly stop the enemy. This forest
had four issues; that of the Chêne-Populeux on the left; those of the
Croix-au-Bois and of Grandpré in the centre, and that of Les Islettes on
the right, which opened or closed the passage into France. The Prussians
were only six leagues from the forest, and Dumouriez had twelve to pass
over, and his design of occupying it to conceal, if he hoped for success.
He executed his project skilfully and boldly. General Dillon, advancing on
the Islettes, took possession of them with seven thousand men; he himself
reached Grandpré, and there established a camp of thirteen thousand men.
The Croix-au-Bois, and the Chêne-Populeux were in like manner occupied and
defended by some troops. It was here that he wrote to the minister of war,
Servan:--"Verdun is taken; I await the Prussians. The camps of Grandpré
and Les Islettes are the Thermopylae of France; but I shall be more
fortunate than Leonidas."

In this position, Dumouriez might have stopped the enemy, and himself have
securely awaited the succours which were on their road to him from every
part of France. The various battalions of volunteers repaired to the camps
in the interior, whence they were despatched to his army, as soon as they
were at all in a state of discipline. Beurnonville, who was on the Flemish
frontier, had received orders to advance with nine thousand men, and to be
at Rhétel, on Dumouriez's left, by the 13th of September. Duval was also
on the 7th to march with seven thousand men to the Chêne-Populeux; and
Kellermann was advancing from Metz, on his right, with a reinforcement of
twenty-two thousand men. Time, therefore, was all that was necessary.

The duke of Brunswick, after taking Verdun, passed the Meuse in three
columns. General Clairfait was operating on his right, and prince
Hohenlohe on his left. Renouncing all hope of driving Dumouriez from his
position by attacking him in front, he tried to turn him. Dumouriez had
been so imprudent as to place nearly his whole force at Grandpré and the
Islettes, and to put only a small corps at Chêne-Populeux and Coix-au-
Bois--posts, it is true, of minor importance. The Prussians, accordingly,
seized upon these, and were on the point of turning him in his camp at
Grandpré, and of thus compelling him to lay down his arms. After this
grand blunder, which neutralized his first manoeuvres, he did not despair
of his situation. He broke up his camp secretly during the night of the
14th September, passed the Aisne, the approach to which might have been
closed to him, made a retreat as able as his advance on the Argonne had
been, and concentrated his forces in the camp at Sainte-Menehould. He had
already delayed the advance of the Prussians at Argonne. The season, as it
advanced, became bad. He had now only to maintain his post till the
arrival of Kellermann and Beurnonville, and the success of the campaign
would be certain. The troops had become disciplined and inured, and the
army amounted to about seventy thousand men, after the arrival of
Beurnonville and Kellermann, which took place on the 17th.

The Prussian army had followed the movements of Dumouriez. On the 20th, it
attacked Kellermann at Valmy, in order to cut off from the French army the
retreat on Châlons. There was a brisk cannonade on both sides. The
Prussians advanced in columns towards the heights of Valmy, to carry them.
Kellermann also formed his infantry in columns, enjoined them not to fire,
but to await the approach of the enemy, and charge them with the bayonet.
He gave this command, with the cry of _Vive la nation!_ and this cry,
repeated from one end of the line to the other, startled the Prussians
still more than the firm attitude of our troops. The duke of Brunswick
made his somewhat shaken battalions fall back; the firing continued till
the evening; the enemy attempted a fresh attack, but were repulsed. The
day was ours; and the success of Valmy, almost insignificant in itself,
produced on our troops, and upon opinion in France, the effect of the most
complete victory.

From the same epoch may be dated the discouragement and retreat of the
enemy. The Prussians had entered upon this campaign on the assurance of
the emigrants that it would be a mere military promenade. They were
without magazines or provisions; in the midst of a perfectly open country,
they encountered a resistance each day more energetic; the incessant rains
had broken up the roads; the soldiers marched knee-deep in mud, and, for
four days past, boiled corn had been their only food. Diseases, produced
by the chalky water, want of clothing, and damp, had made great ravages in
the army. The duke of Brunswick advised a retreat, contrary to the opinion
of the king of Prussia and the emigrants, who wished to risk a battle, and
get possession of Châlons. But as the fate of the Prussian monarchy
depended on its army, and the entire ruin of that army would be the
inevitable consequence of a defeat, the duke of Brunswick's opinion
prevailed. Negotiations were opened, and the Prussians, abating their
first demands, now only required the restoration of the king upon the
constitutional throne. But the convention had just assembled; the republic
had been proclaimed, and the executive council replied, "that the French
republic could listen to no proposition until the Prussian troops had
entirely evacuated the French territory." The Prussians, upon this,
commenced their retreat on the evening of the 30th of September. It was
slightly disturbed by Kellermann, whom Dumouriez sent in pursuit, while he
himself proceeded to Paris to enjoy his triumph, and concert measures for
the invasion of Belgium. The French troops re-entered Verdun and Longwy;
and the enemy, after having crossed the Ardennes and Luxembourg, repassed
the Rhine at Coblentz, towards the end of October. This campaign had been
marked by general success. In Flanders, the duke of Saxe-Teschen had been
compelled to raise the siege of Lille, after seven days of a bombardment,
contrary, both in its duration and in its useless barbarity, to all the
usages of war. On the Rhine, Custine had taken Trèves, Spires, and
Mayence. In the Alps, general Montesquiou had invaded Savoy, and general
Anselme the territory of Nice. Our armies, victorious in all directions,
had everywhere assumed the offensive, and the revolution was saved.

If we were to present the picture of a state emerging from a great crisis,
and were to say: "There were in this state an absolute government whose
authority has been restricted; two privileged classes which have lost
their supremacy; a vast population, already freed by the effect of
civilization and intelligence, but without political rights, and who have
been obliged, by reason of repeated refusals, to gain these for
themselves"; if we were to add: "The government, after opposing this
revolution, submitted to it, but the privileged classes constantly opposed
it,"--the following would probably be concluded from these data:

"The government will be full of regret, the people will exhibit distrust,
and the privileged classes will attack the new order of things, each in
its own way. The nobility, unable to do so at home, from its weakness
there, will emigrate, in order to excite foreign powers, who will make
preparations for attack; the clergy, who would lose its means of action
abroad, will remain at home, where it will seek out foes to the
revolution. The people, threatened from without, in danger at home,
irritated against the emigrants who seek to arm foreign powers, against
foreign powers about to attack its independence, against the clergy, who
excite the country to insurrection, will treat as enemies clergy,
emigrants, and foreign powers. It will require first surveillance over,
then the banishment of the refractory priests; confiscation of the
property of the emigrants; war against allied Europe, in order to
forestall it. The first authors of the revolution will condemn such of
these measures as shall violate the law; the continuators of the
revolution will, on the contrary, regard them as the salvation of the
country; and discord will arise between those who prefer the constitution
to the state, and those who prefer the state to the constitution. The
monarch, induced by his interests as king, his affections and his
conscience, to reject such a course of policy, will pass for an accomplice
of the counter-revolution, because he will appear to protect it. The
revolutionists will then seek to gain over the king by intimidation, and
failing in this, will overthrow his authority."

Such was the history of the legislative assembly. Internal disturbances
led to the decree against the priests; external menaces to that against
the emigrants; the coalition of foreign powers to war against Europe; the
first defeat of our armies, to the formation of the camp of twenty
thousand. The refusal of Louis XVI. to adopt most of these decrees,
rendered him an object of suspicion to the Girondists; the dissensions
between the latter and the constitutionalists, who desired some of them to
be legislators, as in time of peace, others, enemies, as in time of war,
disunited the partisans of the revolution. With the Girondists the
question of liberty was involved in victory, and victory in the decrees.
The 20th of June was an attempt to force their acceptance; but having
failed in its effect, they deemed that either the crown or the revolution
must be renounced, and they brought on the 10th of August. Thus, but for
emigration which induced the war, but for the schism which induced the
disturbances, the king would probably have agreed to the constitution, and
the revolutionists would not have dreamed of the republic.




The convention was constituted on the 20th of September, 1792, and
commenced its deliberations on the 21st. In its first sitting it abolished
royalty, and proclaimed the republic. On the 22nd, it appropriated the
revolution to itself, by declaring it would not date from _year IV. of
Liberty_; but from _year I. of the French Republic_. After these first
measures, voted by acclamation, with a sort of rivalry in democracy and
enthusiasm in the two parties, which had become divided at the close of
the legislative assembly, the convention, instead of commencing its
labours, gave itself up to intestine quarrels. The Girondists and the
Mountain, before they established the new revolution, desired to know to
which of them it was to belong, and the enormous dangers of their position
did not divert them from this contest. They had more than ever to fear the
efforts of Europe. Austria, Prussia, and some of the German princes having
attacked France before the 10th of August, there was every reason to
believe that the other sovereigns of Europe would declare against it after
the fall of the monarchy, the imprisonment of the king, and the massacres
of September. Within, the enemies of the revolution had increased. To the
partisans of the ancient regime, of the aristocracy and clergy, were now
to be added the friends of constitutional monarchy, with whom the fate of
Louis XVI. was an object of earnest solicitude, and those who imagined
liberty impossible without order, or under the empire of the multitude.
Amidst so many obstacles and adversaries, at a moment when their strictest
union was requisite, the Gironde and the Mountain attacked each other with
the fiercest animosity. It is true that these two parties were wholly
incompatible, and that their respective leaders could not combine, so
strong and varied were the grounds of separation in their rivalry for
power, and in their designs.

Events had compelled the Girondists to become republicans. It would have
suited them far better to have remained constitutionalists. The integrity
of their purposes, their distaste for the multitude, their aversion for
violent measures, and especially the prudence which counselled them only
to attempt that which seemed possible--every circumstance made this
imperative upon them; but they had not been left free to remain what they
at first were. They had followed the bias which led them onward to the
republic, and they had gradually habituated themselves to this form of
government. They now desired it ardently and sincerely, but they felt how
difficult it would be to establish and consolidate it. They deemed it a
great and noble thing; but they felt that the men for it were wanting. The
multitude had neither the intelligence nor the virtue proper for this kind
of government. The revolution effected by the constituent assembly was
legitimate, still more because it was possible than because it was just;
it had its constitution and its citizens. But a new revolution, which
should call the lower classes to the conduct of the state, could not be
durable. It would injuriously affect too many interests, and have but
momentary defenders, the lower class being capable of sound action and
conduct in a crisis, but not for a permanency. Yet, in consenting to this
second revolution, it was this inferior class which must be looked to for
support. The Girondists did not adopt this course, and they found
themselves placed in a position altogether false; they lost the assistance
of the constitutionalists without procuring that of the democrats; they
had a hold upon neither extreme of society. Accordingly, they only formed
a half party, which was soon overthrown, because it had no root. The
Girondists, after the 10th of August, were, between the middle class and
the multitude, what the monarchists, or the Mounier and Necker party, had
been after the 24th of July, between the privileged classes and the

The Mountain, on the contrary, desired a republic of the people. The
leaders of this party, annoyed at the credit of the Girondists, sought to
overthrow and to supersede them. They were less intelligent, and less
eloquent, but abler, more decided, and in no degree scrupulous as to
means. The extremest democracy seemed to them the best of governments, and
what they termed the people, that is, the lowest populace, was the object
of their constant adulation, and most ardent solicitude. No party was more
dangerous; most consistently it laboured for those who fought its battle.

Ever since the opening of the convention, the Girondists had occupied the
right benches, and the Mountain party the summit of the left, whence the
name by which they are designated. The Girondists were the strongest in
the assembly; the elections in the departments had generally been in their
favour. A great number of the deputies of the legislative assembly had
been re-elected, and as at that time connexion effected much, the members
who had been united with the deputation of the Gironde and the commune of
Paris before the 10th of August, returned with the same opinions. Others
came without any particular system or party, without enmities or
attachments: these formed what was then called the _Plaine_ or the
_Marais_. This party, taking no interest in the struggles between the
Gironde and the Mountain, voted with the side they considered the most
just, so long as they were allowed to be moderate; that is to say, so long
as they had no fears for themselves.

The Mountain was composed of deputies of Paris, elected under the
influence of the commune of the 10th of August, and of some very decided
republicans from the provinces; it, from time to time, increased its ranks
with those who were rendered enthusiastic by circumstances, or who were
impelled by fear. But though inferior in the convention in point of
numbers, it was none the less very powerful, even at this period. It
swayed Paris; the commune was devoted to it, and the commune had managed
to constitute itself the supreme authority in the state. The Mountain had
sought to master the departments, by endeavouring to establish an identity
of views and conduct between the municipality of Paris and the provincial
municipalities; they had not, however, completely succeeded in this, and
the departments were for the most part favourable to their adversaries,
who cultivated their good will by means of pamphlets and journals sent by
the minister Roland, whose house the Mountain called a _bureau d'esprit
public_, and whose friends they called _intrigants_. But besides this
junction of the communes, which sooner or later would take place, they
were adopted by the Jacobins. This club, the most influential as well as
the most ancient and extensive, changed its views at every crisis without
changing its name; it was a framework ready for every dominating power,
excluding all dissentients. That at Paris was the metropolis of
Jacobinism, and governed the others almost imperiously. The Mountain had
made themselves masters of it; they had already driven the Girondists from
it, by denunciation and disgust, and replaced the members taken from the
bourgeoisie by sans-culottes. Nothing remained to the Girondists but the
ministry, who, thwarted by the commune, were powerless in Paris. The
Mountain, on the contrary, disposed of all the effective force of the
capital, of the public mind by the Jacobins, of the sections and faubourgs
by the sans-culottes, of the insurrectionists by the municipality.

The first measure of parties after having decreed the republic, was to
contend with each other. The Girondists were indignant at the massacres of
September, and they beheld with horror on the benches of the convention
the men who had advised or ordered them. Above all others, two inspired
them with antipathy and disgust; Robespierre, whom they suspected of
aspiring to tyranny; and Marat, who from the commencement of the
revolution had in his writings constituted himself the apostle of murder.
They denounced Robespierre with more animosity than prudence; he was not
yet sufficiently formidable to incur the accusation of aspiring to the
dictatorship. His enemies by reproaching him with intentions then
improbable, and at all events incapable of proof, themselves augmented his
popularity and importance.

Robespierre, who played so terrible a part in our revolution, was
beginning to take a prominent position. Hitherto, despite his efforts, he
had had superiors in his own party: under the constituent assembly, its
famous leaders; under the legislative, Brissot and Pétion; on the 10th of
August, Danton. At these different periods he had declared himself against
those whose renown or popularity offended him. Only able to distinguish
himself among the celebrated personages of the first assembly by the
singularity of his opinions, he had shown himself an exaggerated reformer;
during the second, he became a constitutionalist, because his rivals were
innovators, and he had talked in favour of peace to the Jacobins, because
his rivals advocated war. From the 10th of August he essayed in that club
to ruin the Girondists, and to supplant Danton, always associating the
cause of his vanity with that of the multitude. This man, of ordinary
talents and vain character, owed it to his inferiority to rank with the
last, a great advantage in times of revolution; and his conceit drove him
to aspire to the first rank, to do all to reach it, to dare all to
maintain himself there.

Robespierre had the qualifications for tyranny; a soul not great, it is
true, but not common; the advantage of one sole passion, the appearance of
patriotism, a deserved reputation for incorruptibility, an austere life,
and no aversion to the effusion of blood. He was a proof that amidst civil
troubles it is not mind but conduct that leads to political fortune, and
that persevering mediocrity is more powerful than wavering genius. It must
also be observed that Robespierre had the support of an immense and
fanatical sect, whose government he had solicited, and whose principles he
had defended since the close of the constituent assembly. This sect
derived its origin from the eighteenth century, certain opinions of which
it represented. In politics, its symbol was the absolute sovereignty of
the _Contrat social_ of J.J. Rousseau, and for creed, it held the deism of
_la Profession de foi du Vicaire Savoyard_; at a later period it succeeded
in realizing these for a moment in the constitution of '93, and the
worship of the Supreme Being. More fanaticism and system existed in the
different epochs of the revolution than is generally supposed.

Whether the Girondists distinctly foresaw the dominion of Robespierre, or
whether they suffered themselves to be carried away by their indignation,
they accused him, with republicans, of the most serious of crimes. Paris
was agitated by the spirit of faction; the Girondists wished to pass a law
against those who excited disorders and violence, and at the same time to
give the convention an independent force derived from the eighty-three
departments. They appointed a commission to present a report on this
subject. The Mountain attacked this measure as injurious to Paris; the
Gironde defended it, by pointing out the project of a triumvirate formed
by the deputation of Paris. "I was born in Paris," said Osselin; "I am
deputy for that town. It is announced that a party is formed in the very
heart of it, desiring a dictatorship, triumvirs, tribunes, etc. I declare
that extreme ignorance or profound wickedness alone could have conceived
such a project. Let the member of the deputation of Paris who has
conceived such an idea be anathematized!" "Yes," exclaimed Rebecqui of
Marseilles, "yes, there exists in this assembly a party which aspires at
the dictatorship, and I will name the leader of this party; Robespierre.
That is the man whom I denounce." Barbaroux supported this denunciation by
his evidence; he was one of the chief authors of the 10th of August; he
was the leader of the Marseillais, and he possessed immense influence in
the south. He stated that about the 10th of August, the Marseillais were
much courted by the two parties who divided the capital; he was brought to
Robespierre's, and there he was told to ally himself to those citizens who
had acquired most popularity, and that Paris expressly named to him,
_Robespierre, as the virtuous man who was to be dictator of France_.
Barbaroux was a man of action. There were some members of the Right who
thought with him, that they ought to conquer their adversaries, in order
to avoid being conquered by them. They wished, making use of the
convention against the commune, to oppose the departments to Paris, and
while they remained weak, by no means to spare enemies, to whom they would
otherwise be granting time to become stronger. But the greater number
dreaded a rupture, and trembled at the idea of energetic measures.

This accusation against Robespierre had no immediate consequences; but it
fell back on Marat, who had recommended a dictatorship, in his journal
"L'Ami du Peuple," and had extolled the massacres. When he ascended the
tribune to justify himself, the assembly shuddered. "_A bas! à bas_!"
resounded from all sides. Marat remained imperturbable. In a momentary
pause, he said: "I have a great number of personal enemies in this
assembly. (_Tous! tous!_) I beg of them to remember decorum; I exhort them
to abstain from all furious clamours and indecent threats against a man
who has served liberty and themselves more than they think. For once let
them learn to listen." And this man delivered in the midst of the
convention, astounded at his audacity and sangfroid, his views of the
proscriptions and of the dictatorship. For some time he had fled from
cellar to cellar to avoid public anger, and the warrants issued against
him. His sanguinary journal alone appeared; in it he demanded heads, and
prepared the multitude for the massacres of September. There is no folly
which may not enter a man's head, and what is worse, which may not be
realized for a moment. Marat was possessed by certain fixed ideas. The
revolution had enemies, and, in his opinion, it could not last unless
freed from them; from that moment he deemed nothing could be more simple
than to exterminate them, and appoint a dictator, whose functions should
be limited to proscribing; these two measures he proclaimed aloud, with a
cynical cruelty, having no more regard for propriety than for the lives of
men, and despising as weak minds all those who called his projects
atrocious, instead of considering them profound. The revolution had actors
really more sanguinary than he, but none exercised a more fatal influence
over his times. He depraved the morality of parties already sufficiently
corrupt; and he had the two leading ideas which the committee of public
safety subsequently realized by its commissioners or its government--
extermination in mass, and the dictatorship.

Marat's accusation was not attended with any results; he inspired more
disgust, but less hatred than Robespierre; some regarded him as a madman;
others considered these debates as the quarrels of parties, and not as an
object of interest for the republic. Moreover, it seemed dangerous to
attempt to purify the convention, or to dismiss one of its members, and it
was a difficult step to get over, even for parties. Danton did not
exonerate Marat. "I do not like him," said he; "I have had experience of
his temperament; it is volcanic, crabbed and unsociable. But why seek for
the language of a faction in what he writes? Has the general agitation any
other cause than that of the revolutionary movement itself?" Robespierre,
on his part, protested that he knew very little of Marat; that, previous
to the 10th of August, he had only had one conversation with him, after
which Marat, whose violent opinions he did not approve, had considered his
political views so narrow, that he had stated in his journal, _that he had
neither the higher views nor the daring of a statesman_.

But he was the object of much greater indignation because he was more
dreaded. The first accusation of Rebecqui and Barbaroux had not succeeded.
A short time afterwards, the Minister Roland made a report on the state of
France and Paris; in it he denounced the massacres of September, the
encroachments of the commune, and the proceedings of the agitators.
"When," said he, "they render the wisest and most intrepid defenders of
liberty odious or suspected, when principles of revolt and slaughter are
boldly professed and applauded in the assemblies, and clamours arise
against the convention itself, I can no longer doubt that partisans of the
ancient regime, or false friends of the people, concealing their
extravagance or wickedness under a mask of patriotism, have conceived the
plan of an overthrow in which they hope to raise themselves on ruins and
corpses, and gratify their thirst for blood, gold, and atrocity."

He cited, in proof of his report, a letter in which the vice-president of
the second section of the criminal tribunal informed him, that he and the
most distinguished Girondists were threatened; that, in the words of their
enemies, _another bleeding was wanted_; and that these men would hear of
no one but Robespierre.

At these words the latter hastened to the tribune to justify himself. "No
one," he cried, "dare accuse me to my face!" "I dare!" exclaimed Louvet,
one of the most determined men of the Gironde. "Yes, Robespierre," he
continued, fixing his eye upon him; "I accuse you!" Robespierre, hitherto
full of assurance, became moved. He had once before, at the Jacobins,
measured his strength with this formidable adversary, whom he knew to be
witty, impetuous, and uncompromising. Louvet now spoke, and in a most
eloquent address spared neither acts nor names. He traced the course of
Robespierre to the Jacobins, to the commune, to the electoral assembly:
"calumniating the best patriots; lavishing the basest flatteries on a few
hundred citizens, at first designated as the people of Paris, afterwards
as the people absolutely, and then as the sovereign; repeating the eternal
enumeration of his own merits, perfections, and virtues; and never
failing, after he had dwelt on the strength, grandeur, and sovereignty of
the people, to protest that he was the people too." He then described him
concealing himself on the 10th of August, and afterwards swaying the
conspirators of the commune. Then he came to the massacres of September,
and exclaimed: "The revolution of the 10th of August belongs to all!" he
added, pointing out a few of the members of the Mountain in the commune,
"but that of the 2nd of September, that belongs to them--and to none but
them! Have they not glorified themselves by it? They themselves, with
brutal contempt, only designated us as the patriots of the 10th of August.
With ferocious pride they called themselves the patriots of the 2nd of
September! Ah, let them retain this distinction worthy of the courage
peculiar to them; let them retain it as our justification, and for their
lasting shame! These pretended friends of the people wish to cast on the
people of Paris the horrors that stained the first week of September. They
have basely slandered them. The people of Paris can fight; they cannot
murder! It is true, they were assembled all the day long before the
château of the Tuileries on the glorious 10th of August; it is false that
they were seen before the prisons on the horrible 2nd of September. How
many executioners were there within? Two hundred; probably not two
hundred. And without, how many spectators could be reckoned drawn thither
by truly incomprehensible curiosity? At most, twice the number. But, it is
asked, why, if the people did not assist in these murders, did they not
hinder them? Why? Because Pétion's tutelary authority was fettered;
because Roland spoke in vain; because Danton, the minister of justice, did
not speak at all,... because the presidents of the forty-eight sections
waited for orders which the general in command did not give; because
municipal officers, wearing their scarfs, presided at these atrocious
executions. But the legislative assembly? The legislative assembly!
representatives of the people, you will avenge it! The powerless state
into which your predecessors were reduced is, in the midst of such crimes,
the greatest for which these ruffians, whom I denounce, must be punished."
Returning to Robespierre, Louvet pointed out his ambition, his efforts,
his extreme ascendancy over the people, and terminated his fiery philippic
by a series of facts, each one of which was preceded by this terrible
form: "_Robespierre, I accuse thee!_"

Louvet descended from the tribune amidst applause, Robespierre mounted it
to justify himself; he was pale, and was received with murmurs. Either
from agitation or fear of prejudice, he asked for a week's delay. The time
arrived; he appeared less like one accused than as a triumpher; he
repelled with irony Louvet's reproaches, and entered into a long apology
for himself. It must be admitted that the facts were vague, and it
required little trouble to weaken or overturn them. Persons were placed in
the gallery to applaud him; even the convention itself, who regarded this
quarrel as the result of a private pique, and, as Barrère said, did not
fear _a man of a day, a petty leader of riots_, was disposed to close
these debates. Accordingly, when Robespierre observed, as he finished:
"For my part, I will draw no personal conclusions; I have given up the
easy advantage of replying to the calumnies of my adversaries by more
formidable denunciations; I wished to suppress the offensive part of my
justification. I renounce the just vengeance I have a right to pursue
against my calumniators; I ask for no other than the return of peace and
triumph of liberty!" he was applauded, and the convention passed to the
order of the day. Louvet in vain sought to reply; he was not allowed.
Barbaroux as vainly presented himself as accuser and Lanjuinais opposed
the motion for the order without obtaining the renewal of the discussion.
The Girondists themselves supported it: they committed one fault in
commencing the accusation, and another in not continuing it. The Mountain
carried the day, since they were not conquered, and Robespierre was
brought nearer the assumption of the part he had been so far removed from.
In times of revolution, men very soon become what they are supposed to be,
and the Mountain adopted him for their leader because the Girondists
pursued him as such.

But what was much more important than personal attacks, were the
discussions respecting the means of government, and the management of
authorities and parties. The Girondists struck, not only against
individuals but against the commune. Not one of their measures succeeded;
they were badly proposed or badly sustained. They should have supported
the government, replaced the municipality, maintained their post among the
Jacobins and swayed them, gained over the multitude, or prevented its
acting; and they did nothing of all this. One among them, Buzot, proposed
giving the convention a guard of three thousand men, taken from the
departments. This measure, which would at least have made the assembly
independent, was not supported with sufficient vigour to be adopted. Thus
the Girondists attacked the Mountain without weakening them, the commune
without subduing it, the Faubourgs without suppressing them. They
irritated Paris by invoking the aid of the departments, without procuring
it; thus acting in opposition to the most common rules of prudence, for it
is always safer to do a thing than to threaten to do it.

Their adversaries skilfully turned this circumstance to advantage. They
secretly circulated a report which could not but compromise the
Girondists; it was, that they wished to remove the republic to the south,
and give up the rest of the empire. Then commenced that reproach of
federalism, which afterwards became so fatal. The Girondists disdained it
because they did not see the consequences; but it necessarily gained
credit in proportion as they became weak and their enemies became daring.
What had given rise to the report was the project of defending themselves
behind the Loire, and removing the government to the south, if the north
should be invaded and Paris taken, and the predilection they manifested
for the provinces, and their indignation against the agitators of the
capital. Nothing is more easy than to change the appearance of a measure
by changing the period in which the measure was adopted, and discover in
the disapprobation expressed at the irregular acts of a city, an intention
to form the other cities of the state into a league against it.
Accordingly, the Girondists were pointed out to the multitude as
federalists. While they denounced the commune, and accused Robespierre and
Marat, the Mountain decreed _the unity and indivisibility of the
republic_. This was a way of attacking them and bringing them into
suspicion, although they themselves adhered so eagerly to these
propositions that they seemed to regret not having made them.

But a circumstance, apparently unconnected with the disputes of these two
parties, served still better the cause of the Mountain. Already emboldened
by the unsuccessful attempts which had been directed against them, they
only waited for an opportunity to become assailants in their turn. The
convention was fatigued by these long discussions. Those members who were
not interested in them, and even those of the two parties who were not in
the first rank, felt the need of concord, and wished to see men occupy
themselves with the republic. There was an apparent truce, and the
attention of the assembly was directed for a moment to the new
constitution, which the Mountain caused it to abandon, in order to decide
on the fate of the fallen prince. The leaders of the extreme Left were
driven to this course by several motives: they did not want the
Girondists, and the moderate members of the Plain, who directed the
committee of the constitution, the former by Pétion, Condorcet, Brissot,
Vergniaud, Gensonné, the others by Barrère, Sieyès, and Thomas Paine, to
organize the republic. They would have established the system of the
bourgeoisie, rendering it a little more democratic than that of 1791,
while they themselves aspired at constituting the people. But they could
only accomplish their end by power, and they could only obtain power by
protracting the revolutionary state in France. Besides the necessity of
preventing the establishment of legal order by a terrible coup d'état,
such as the condemnation of Louis XVI., which would arouse all passions,
rally round them the violent parties, by proving them to be the inflexible
guardians of the republic, they hoped to expose the sentiments of the
Girondists, who did not conceal their desire to save Louis XVI., and thus
ruin them in the estimation of the multitude. There were, without a doubt,
in this conjuncture, a great number of the Mountain, who, on this
occasion, acted with the greatest sincerity and only as republicans, in
whose eyes Louis XVI. appeared guilty with respect to the revolution; and
a dethroned king was dangerous to a young democracy. But this party would
have been more clement, had it not had to ruin the Gironde at the same
time with Louis XVI.

For some time past, the public mind had been prepared for his trial. The
Jacobin club resounded with invectives against him; the most injurious
reports were circulated against his character; his condemnation was
required for the firm establishment of liberty. The popular societies in
the departments addressed petitions to the convention with the same
object. The sections presented themselves at the bar of the assembly, and
they carried through it, on litters, the men wounded on the 10th of
August, who came to cry for vengeance on Louis Capet. They now only
designated Louis XVI. by this name of the ancient chief of his race,
thinking to substitute his title of king by his family name.

Party motives and popular animosities combined against this unfortunate
prince. Those who, two months before, would have repelled the idea of
exposing him to any other punishment than that of dethronement, were
stupefied; so quickly does man lose in moments of crisis the right to
defend his opinions! The discovery of the iron chest especially increased
the fanaticism of the multitude, and the weakness of the king's defenders.
After the 10th of August, there were found in the offices of the civil
list documents which proved the secret correspondence of Louis XVI. with
the discontented princes, with the emigration, and with Europe. In a
report, drawn up at the command of the legislative assembly, he was
accused of intending to betray the state and overthrow the revolution. He
was accused of having written, on the 16th April, 1791, to the bishop of
Clermont, that if he regained his power he would restore the former
government and the clergy to the state in which they previously were; of
having afterwards proposed war, merely to hasten the approach of his
deliverers; of having been in correspondence with men who wrote to him--
"War will compel all the powers to combine against the seditious and
abandoned men who tyrannize over France, in order that their punishment
may speedily serve as an example to all who shall be induced to trouble
the peace of empires. You may rely on a hundred and fifty thousand men,
Prussians, Austrians, and Imperialists, and on an army of twenty thousand
emigrants;" of having been on terms with his brothers, whom his public
measures had discountenanced: and, lastly, of having constantly opposed
the revolution.

Fresh documents were soon brought forward in support of this accusation.
In the Tuileries, behind a panel in the wainscot, there was a hole wrought
in the wall, and closed by an iron door. This secret closet was pointed
out by the minister, Roland, and there were discovered proofs of all the
conspiracies and intrigues of the court against the revolution; projects
with the popular leaders to strengthen the constitutional power of the
king, to restore the ancient régime and the aristocrats; the manoeuvres of
Talon, the arrangements with Mirabeau, the proposition accepted by
Bouillé, under the constituent assembly, and some new plots under the
legislative assembly. This discovery increased the exasperation against
Louis XVI. Mirabeau's bust was broken by the Jacobins, and the convention
covered the one which stood in the hall where it held its sittings.

For some time there had been a question in the assembly as to the trial of
this prince, who, having been dethroned, could no longer be proceeded
against. There was no tribunal empowered to pronounce his sentence, no
punishment which could be inflicted on him: accordingly, they plunged into
false interpretations of the inviolability granted to Louis XVI., in order
to condemn him legally. The greatest error of parties, next to being
unjust, is the desire not to appear so. The committee of legislation,
commissioned to draw up a report on the question as to whether Louis XVI.
could be tried, and whether he could be tried by the convention, decided
in the affirmative. The deputy Mailhe opposed, in its name, the dogma of
inviolability; but as this dogma had influenced the preceding epoch of the
revolution, he contended that Louis XVI. was inviolable as king, but not
as an individual. He maintained that the nation, unable to give up its
guarantee respecting acts of power, had supplied the inviolability of the
monarch by the responsibility of his ministers; and that, when Louis XVI.
had acted as a simple individual, his responsibility devolving on no one,
he ceased to be inviolable. Thus Mailhe limited the constitutional
safeguard given to Louis XVI. to the acts of the king. He concluded that
Louis XVI. could be tried, the dethronement not being a punishment, but a
change of government; that he might be brought to trial, by virtue of the
penal code relative to traitors and conspirators; that he could be tried
by the convention, without observing the process of other tribunals,
because, the convention representing the people--the people including all
interests, and all interests constituting justice--it was impossible that
the national tribunal could violate justice, and that, consequently, it
was useless to subject it to forms. Such was the chain of sophistry, by
means of which the committee transformed the convention into a tribunal.
Robespierre's party showed itself much more consistent, dwelling only on
state reasons, and rejecting forms as deceptive.

The discussion commenced on the 13th of November, six days after the
report of the committee. The partisans of inviolability, while they
considered Louis XVI. guilty, maintained that he could not be tried. The
principal of these was Morrison. He said, that inviolability was general;
that the constitution had anticipated more than secret hostility on the
part of Louis XVI., an open attack, and even in that case had only
pronounced his deposition; that in this respect the nation had pledged its
sovereignty; that the mission of the convention was to change the
government, not to judge Louis XVI.; that, restrained by the rules of
justice, it was so also by the usages of war, which only permitted an
enemy to be destroyed during the combat--after a victory, the law
vindicates him; that, moreover, the republic had no interest in condemning
Louis; that it ought to confine itself with respect to him, to measures of
general safety, detain him prisoner, or banish him from France. This was
the opinion of the Right of the convention. The Plain shared the opinion
of the committee; but the Mountain repelled, at the same time, the
inviolability and the trial of Louis XVI.

"Citizens," said Saint-Just, "I engage to prove that the opinion of
Morrison, who maintains the king's inviolability, and that of the
committee which requires his trial as a citizen, are equally false; I
contend that we should judge the king as an enemy; that we have less to do
with trying than with opposing him: that having no place in the contract
which unites Frenchmen, the forms of the proceeding are not in civil law,
but in the law of the right of nations; thus, all delay or reserve in this
case are sheer acts of imprudence, and next to the imprudence which
postpones the moment that should give us laws, the most fatal will be that
which makes us temporize with the king." Reducing everything to
considerations of enmity and policy, Saint-Just added, "The very men who
are about to try Louis have a republic to establish: those who attach any
importance to the just chastisement of a king, will never found a
republic. Citizens, if the Roman people, after six hundred years of virtue
and of hatred towards kings; if Great Britain after the death of Cromwell,
saw kings restored in spite of its energy, what ought not good citizens,
friends of liberty, to fear among us, when they see the axe tremble in
your hands, and a people, from the first day of their freedom, respect the
memory of their chains?"

This violent party, who wished to substitute a coup d'état for a sentence,
to follow no law, no form, but to strike Louis XVI. like a conquered
prisoner, by making hostilities even survive victory, had but a very
feeble majority in the convention; but without, it was strongly supported
by the Jacobins and the commune. Notwithstanding the terror which it
already inspired, its murderous suggestions were repelled by the
convention; and the partisans of inviolability, in their turn,
courageously asserted reasons of public interest at the same time as rules
of justice and humanity. They maintained that the same men could not be
judges and legislators, the jury and the accusers. They desired also to
impart to the rising republic the lustre of great virtues, those of
generosity and forgiveness; they wished to follow the example of the
people of Rome, who acquired their freedom and retained it five hundred
years, because they proved themselves magnanimous; because they banished
the Tarquins instead of putting them to death. In a political view, they
showed the consequences of the king's condemnation, as it would affect the
anarchical party of the kingdom, rendering it still more insolent; and
with regard to Europe, whose still neutral powers it would induce to join
the coalition against the republic.

But Robespierre, who during this long debate displayed a daring and
perseverance that presaged his power, appeared at the tribune to support
Saint-Just, to reproach the convention with involving in doubt what the
insurrection had decided, and with restoring, by sympathy and the
publicity of a defence, the fallen royalist party. "The assembly," said
Robespierre, "has involuntarily been led far away from the real question.
Here we have nothing to do with trial: Louis is not an accused man; you
are not judges, you are, and can only be, statesmen. You have no sentence
to pronounce for or against a man, but you are called on to adopt a
measure of public safety; to perform an act of national precaution. A
dethroned king is only fit for two purposes, to disturb the tranquillity
of the state, and shake its freedom, or to strengthen one or the other of

"Louis was king; the republic is founded; the famous question you are
discussing is decided in these few words. Louis cannot be tried; he is
already tried, he is condemned, or the republic is not absolved." He
required that the convention should declare Louis XVI. a traitor towards
the French, criminal towards humanity, and sentence him at once to death,
by virtue of the insurrection.

The Mountain by these extreme propositions, by the popularity they
attained without, rendered condemnation in a measure inevitable. By
gaining an extraordinary advance on the other parties, it obliged them to
follow it, though at a distance. The majority of the convention, composed
in a large part of Girondists, who dared not pronounce Louis XVI.
inviolable, and of the Plain, decided, on Pétion's proposition, against
the opinion of the fanatical Mountain and against that of the partisans of
inviolability, that Louis XVI. should be tried by the convention. Robert
Lindet then made, in the name of the commission of the twenty-one, his
report respecting Louis XVI. The arraignment, setting forth the offences
imputed to him, was drawn up, and the convention summoned the prisoner to
its bar.

Louis had been confined in the Temple for four months. He was not at
liberty, as the assembly at first wished him to be in assigning him the
Luxembourg for a residence. The suspicious commune guarded him closely;
but, submissive to his destiny, prepared for everything, he manifested
neither impatience, regret, nor indignation. He had only one servant about
his person, Cléry, who at the same time waited on his family. During the
first months of his imprisonment, he was not separated from his family;
and he still found solace in meeting them. He comforted and supported his
two companions in misfortune, his wife and sister; he acted as preceptor
to the young dauphin, and gave him the lessons of an unfortunate man, of a
captive king. He read a great deal, and often turned to the History of
England, by Hume; there he read of many dethroned kings, and one of them
condemned by the people. Man always seeks destinies similar to his own.
But the consolation he found in the sight of his family did not last long;
as soon as his trial was decided, he was separated from them. The commune
wished to prevent the prisoners from concerting their justification; the
surveillance it exercised over Louis XVI. became daily more minute and

In this state of things, Santerre received the order to conduct Louis XVI.
to the bar of the convention. He repaired to the Temple, accompanied by
the mayor, who communicated his mission to the king, and inquired if he
was willing to descend. Louis hesitated a moment, then said: "This is
another violence. I must yield!" and he decided on appearing before the
convention; not objecting to it, as Charles I. had done with regard to his
judges. "Representatives," said Barrère, when his approach was announced,
"you are about to exercise the right of national justice. Let your
attitude be suited to your new functions;" and turning to the gallery, he
added, "Citizens, remember the terrible silence which accompanied Louis on
his return from Varennes; a silence which was the precursor of the trial
of kings by nations." Louis XVI. appeared firm as he entered the hall, and
he took a steady glance round the assembly. He was placed at the bar, and
the president said to him in a voice of emotion: "Louis, the French nation
accuses you. You are about to hear the charges of the indictment. Louis,
be seated." A seat had been prepared for him; he sat in it. During a long
examination, he displayed much calmness and presence of mind, he replied
to each question appropriately, often in an affecting and triumphant
manner. He repelled the reproaches addressed to him respecting his conduct
before the 14th of July, reminding them that his authority was not then
limited; before the journey to Varennes, by the decree of the constituent
assembly, which had been satisfied with his replies; and after the 10th of
August, by throwing all public acts on ministerial responsibility, and by
denying all the secret measures which were personally attributed to him.
This denial did not, however, in the eyes of the convention, overthrow
facts, proved for the most part by documents written or signed by the hand
of Louis XVI. himself; he made use of the natural right of every accused
person. Thus he did not admit the existence of the iron chest, and the
papers that were brought forward. Louis XVI. invoked a law of safety,
which the convention did not admit, and the convention sought to protect
itself from anti-revolutionary attempts, which Louis XVI. would not admit.

When Louis had returned to the Temple, the convention considered the
request he had made for a defender. A few of the Mountain opposed the
request in vain. The convention determined to allow him the services of a
counsel. It was then that the venerable Malesherbes offered himself to the
convention to defend Louis XVI. "Twice," he wrote, "have I been summoned
to the council of him who was my master, at a time when that function was
the object of ambition to every man; I owe him the same service now, when
many consider it dangerous." His request was granted, Louis XVI. in his
abandonment, was touched by this proof of devotion. When Malesherbes
entered his room, he went towards him, pressed him in his arms, and said
with tears:--"Your sacrifice is the more generous, since you endanger your
own life without saving mine." Malesherbes and Tronchet toiled
uninterruptedly at his defence, and associated M. Desèze with them; they
sought to reanimate the courage of the king, but they found the king
little inclined to hope. "I am sure they will take my life; but no matter,
let us attend to my trial as if I were about to gain it. In truth, I shall
gain it, for I shall leave no stain on my memory."

At length the day for the defence arrived; it was delivered by M. Desèze;
Louis was present. The profoundest silence pervaded the assembly and the
galleries. M. Desèze availed himself of every consideration of justice and
innocence in favour of the royal prisoner. He appealed to the
inviolability which had been granted him; he asserted that as king he
could not be tried; that as accusers, the representatives of the people
could not be his judges. In this he advanced nothing which had not already
been maintained by one party of the assembly. But he chiefly strove to
justify the conduct of Louis XVI. by ascribing to him intentions always
pure and irreproachable. He concluded with these last and solemn words:--
"Listen, in anticipation, to what History will say to Fame; Louis
ascending the throne at twenty, presented an example of morals, justice,
and economy; he had no weakness, no corrupting passion: he was the
constant friend of the people. Did the people desire the abolition of an
oppressive tax? Louis abolished it: did the people desire the suppression
of slavery? Louis suppressed it: did the people solicit reforms? he made
them: did the people wish to change its laws? he consented to change them:
did the people desire that millions of Frenchmen should be restored to
their rights? he restored them: did the people wish for liberty? he gave
it them. Men cannot deny to Louis the glory of having anticipated the
people by his sacrifices; and it is he whom it is proposed to slay.
Citizens, I will not continue, I leave it to History; remember, she will
judge your sentence, and her judgment will be that of ages." But passion
proved deaf and incapable of foresight.

The Girondists wished to save Louis XVI., but they feared the imputation
of royalism, which was already cast upon them by the Mountain. During the
whole transaction, their conduct was rather equivocal; they dared not
pronounce themselves in favour of or against the accused; and their
moderation ruined them without serving him. At that moment his cause, not
only that of his throne, but of his life, was their own. They were about
to determine, by an act of justice or by a coup d'état, whether they
should return to the legal regime, or prolong the revolutionary regime.
The triumph of the Girondists or of the Mountain was involved in one or
the other of these solutions. The latter became exceedingly active. They
pretended that, while following forms, men were forgetful of republican
energy, and that the defence of Louis XVI. was a lecture on monarchy
addressed to the nation. The Jacobins powerfully seconded them, and
deputations came to the bar demanding the death of the king.

Yet the Girondists, who had not dared to maintain the question of
inviolability, proposed a skilful way of saving Louis XVI. from death, by
appealing from the sentence of the convention to the people. The extreme
Right still protested against the erection of the assembly into a
tribunal; but the competence of the assembly having been previously
decided, all their efforts were turned in another direction. Salles
proposed that the king should be pronounced guilty, but that the
application of the punishment should be left to the primary assembly.
Buzot, fearing that the convention would incur the reproach of weakness,
thought that it ought to pronounce the sentence, and submit the judgment
it pronounced to the decision of the people. This advice was vigorously
opposed by the Mountain, and even by a great number of the more moderate
members of the convention, who saw, in the convocation of the primary
assemblies, the germ of civil war.

The assembly had unanimously decided that Louis was guilty, when the
appeal to the people was put to the question. Two hundred and eighty-four
voices voted for, four hundred and twenty-four against it; ten declined
voting. Then came the terrible question as to the nature of the
punishment. Paris was in a state of the greatest excitement: deputies were
threatened at the very door of the assembly; fresh excesses on the part of
the populace were dreaded; the Jacobin clubs resounded with extravagant
invectives against Louis XVI., and the Right. The Mountain, till then the
weakest party in the convention, sought to obtain the majority by terror,
determined, if it did not succeed, none the less to sacrifice Louis XVI.
Finally, after four hours of nominal appeal, the president, Vergniaud,
said: "Citizens, I am about to proclaim the result of the scrutiny. When
justice has spoken, humanity should have its turn." There were seven
hundred and twenty-one voters. The actual majority was three hundred and
sixty-one. The death of the king was decided by a majority of twenty-six
votes. Opinions were very various: Girondists voted for his death, with a
reservation, it is true; most of the members of the Right voted for
imprisonment or exile; a few of the Mountain voted with the Girondists. As
soon as the result was known, the president said, in a tone of grief: "In
the name of the convention, I declare the punishment, to which it condemns
Louis Capet, to be death." Those who had undertaken the defence appeared
at the bar; they were deeply affected. They endeavoured to bring back the
assembly to sentiments of compassion, in consideration of the small
majority in favour of the sentence. But this subject had already been
discussed and decided. "Laws are only made by a simple majority," said one
of the Mountain. "Yes," replied a voice, "but laws may be revoked; you
cannot restore the life of a man." Malesherbes wished to speak, but could
not. Sobs prevented his utterance; he could only articulate a few
indistinct words of entreaty. His grief moved the assembly. The request
for a reprieve was received by the Girondists as a last resource; but this
also failed them, and the fatal sentence was pronounced.

Louis expected it. When Malesherbes came in tears to announce the
sentence, he found him sitting in the dark, his elbows resting on a table,
his face hid in his hands, and in profound meditation. At the noise of his
entrance, Louis rose and said: "For two hours I have been trying to
discover if, during my reign, I have deserved the slightest reproach from
my subjects. Well, M. de Malesherbes, I swear to you, in the truth of my
heart, as a man about to appear before God, that I have constantly sought
the happiness of my people, and never indulged a wish opposed to it."
Malesherbes urged that a reprieve would not be rejected, but this Louis
did not expect. As he saw Malesherbes go out, Louis begged him not to
forsake him in his last moments; Malesherbes promised to return; but he
came several times, and was never able to gain access to him. Louis asked
for him frequently, and appeared distressed at not seeing him. He received
without emotion the formal announcement of his sentence from the minister
of justice. He asked three days to prepare to appear before God; and also
to be allowed the services of a priest, and permission to communicate
freely with his wife and children. Only the last two requests were

The interview was a distressing scene to this desolate family; but the
moment of separation was far more so. Louis, on parting with his family,
promised to see them again the next day; but, on reaching his room, he
felt that the trial would be too much, and, pacing up and down violently,
he exclaimed, "I will not go!" This was his last struggle; the rest of his
time was spent in preparing for death. The night before the execution he
slept calmly. Cléry awoke him, as he had been ordered, at five, and
received his last instructions. He then communicated, commissioned Cléry
with his dying words, and all he was allowed to bequeath, a ring, a seal,
and some hair. The drums were already beating, and the dull sound of
travelling cannon, and of confused voices, might be heard. At length
Santerre arrived. "You are come for me," said Louis; "I ask one moment."
He deposited his will in the hands of the municipal officer, asked for his
hat, and said, in a firm tone: "Let us go."

The carriage was an hour on its way from the Temple to the Place de la
Revolution. A double row of soldiers lined the road; more than forty
thousand men were under arms. Paris presented a gloomy aspect. The
citizens present at the execution manifested neither applause nor regret;
all were silent. On reaching the place of execution, Louis alighted from
the carriage. He ascended the scaffold with a firm step, knelt to receive
the benediction of the priest, who is recorded to have said, "Son of Saint
Louis, ascend to heaven!" With some repugnance he submitted to the binding
of his hands, and walked hastily to the left of the scaffold; "I die
innocent," said he; "I forgive my enemies; and you, unfortunate people..."
Here, at a signal, the drums and trumpets drowned his voice, and the three
executioners seized him. At ten minutes after ten he had ceased to live.

Thus perished, at the age of thirty-nine, after a reign of sixteen years
and a half, spent in endeavouring to do good, the best but weakest of
monarchs. His ancestors bequeathed to him a revolution. He was better
calculated than any of them to prevent and terminate it; for he was
capable of becoming a reformer-king before it broke out, or of becoming a
constitutional king afterwards. He is, perhaps, the only prince who,
having no other passion, had not that of power, and who united the two
qualities which make good kings, fear of God and love of the people. He
perished, the victim of passions which he did not share; of those of the
persons about him, to which he was a stranger, and to those of the
multitude, which he had not excited. Few memories of kings are so
commendable. History will say of him, that, with a little more strength of
mind, he would have been an exemplary king.



The death of Louis XVI. rendered the different parties irreconcilable, and
increased the external enemies of the revolution. The republicans had to
contend with all Europe, with several classes of malcontents, and with
themselves. But the Mountain, who then directed the popular movement,
imagined that they were too far involved not to push matters to extremity.
To terrify the enemies of the revolution, to excite the fanaticism of the
people by harangues, by the presence of danger, and by insurrections; to
refer everything to it, both the government and the safety of the
republic; to infuse into it the most ardent enthusiasm, in the name of
liberty, equality, and fraternity; to keep it in this violent state of
crisis for the purpose of making use of its passions and its power; such
was the plan of Danton and the Mountain, who had chosen him for their
leader. It was he who augmented the popular effervescence by the growing
dangers of the republic, and who, under the name of revolutionary
government, established the despotism of the multitude, instead of legal
liberty. Robespierre and Marat went even much further than he. They sought
to erect into a permanent government what Danton considered as merely
transitory. The latter was only a political chief, while the others were
true sectarians; the first, more ambitious, the second, more fanatical.

The Mountain had, by the catastrophe of the 21st of January, gained a
great victory over the Girondists, whose politics were much more moral
than theirs, and who hoped to save the revolution, without staining it
with blood. But their humanity, their spirit of justice, proved of no
service, and even turned against them. They were accused of being the
enemies of the people, because they opposed their excesses; of being the
accomplices of the tyrant, because they had sought to save Louis XVI.; and
of betraying the republic, because they recommended moderation. It was
with these reproaches that the Mountain persecuted them with constant
animosity in the bosom of the convention, from the 21st of January till
the 31st of May and the 2nd of June. The Girondists were for a long time
supported by the Centre, which sided with the Right against murder and
anarchy, and with the Left for measures of public safety. This mass,
which, properly speaking, formed the spirit of the convention, displayed
some courage, and balanced the power of the Mountain and the Commune as
long as it possessed those intrepid and eloquent Girondists, who carried
with them to prison and to the scaffold all the generous resolutions of
the assembly.

For a moment, union existed among the various parties of the assembly.
Lepelletier Saint Fargeau was stabbed by a retired member of the household
guard, named Pâris, for having voted the death of Louis XVI. The members
of the convention, united by common danger, swore on his tomb to forget
their enmities; but they soon revived them. Some of the murderers of
September, whose punishment was desired by the more honourable
republicans, were proceeded against at Meaux. The Mountain, apprehensive
that their past conduct would be inquired into, and that their adversaries
would take advantage of a condemnation to attack them more openly
themselves, put a stop to these proceedings. This impunity further
emboldened the leaders of the multitude; and Marat, who at that period had
an incredible influence over the multitude, excited them to pillage the
dealers, whom he accused of monopolizing provisions. He wrote and spoke
violently, in his pamphlets and at the Jacobins, against the aristocracy
of the burghers, merchants, and _statesmen_ (as he designated the
Girondists), that is to say, against those who, in the assembly or the
nation at large, still opposed the reign of the Sans-culottes and the
Mountain. There was something frightful in the fanaticism and invincible
obstinacy of these sectaries. The name given by them to the Girondists
from the beginning of the convention, was that of Intrigants, on account
of the ministerial and rather stealthy means with which they opposed in
the departments the insolent and public conduct of the Jacobins.

Accordingly, they denounced them regularly in the club. "At Rome, an
orator cried daily: 'Carthage must be destroyed!' well, let a Jacobin
mount this tribune every day, and say these single words, 'The intrigants
must be destroyed!' Who could withstand us? We oppose crime, and the
ephemeral power of riches; but we have truth, justice, poverty, and virtue
in our cause. With such arms, the Jacobins will soon have to say: 'We had
only to pass on, they were already extinct.'" Marat, who was much more
daring than Robespierre, whose hatred and projects still concealed
themselves under certain forms, was the patron of all denouncers and
lovers of anarchy. Several of the Mountain reproached him with
compromising their cause by his extreme counsels, and by unseasonable
excesses; but the entire Jacobin people supported him even against
Robespierre, who rarely obtained the advantage in his disputes with him.
The pillage recommended in February, in _L'Ami du Peuple_, with respect to
some dealers, "by way of example," took place, and Marat was denounced to
the convention, who decreed his accusation after a stormy sitting. But
this decree had no result, because the ordinary tribunals had no
authority. This double effort of force on one side, and weakness on the
other, took place in the month of February. More decisive events soon
brought the Girondists to ruin.

Hitherto, the military position of France had been satisfactory. Dumouriez
had just crowned the brilliant campaign of Argonne by the conquest of
Belgium. After the retreat of the Prussians, he had repaired to Paris to
concert measures for the invasion of the Austrian Netherlands. Returning
to the army on the 20th of October, 1792, he began the attack on the 28th.
The plan attempted so inappropriately, with so little strength and
success, at the commencement of the war, was resumed and executed with
superior means. Dumouriez, at the head of the army of Belgium, forty
thousand strong, advanced from Valenciennes upon Mons, supported on the
right by the army of the Ardennes, amounting to about sixteen thousand
men, under general Valence, who marched from Givet upon Namur; and on his
left, by the army of the north, eighteen thousand strong, under general
Labourdonnaie, who advanced from Lille upon Tournai. The Austrian army,
posted before Mons, awaited battle in its intrenchments. Dumouriez
completely defeated it; and the victory of Jemappes opened Belgium to the
French, and again gave our arms the ascendancy in Europe. A victor on the
6th of November, Dumouriez entered Mons on the 7th, Brussels on the 14th,
and Liége on the 28th. Valence took Namur, Labourdonnaie Antwerp; and by
the middle of December, the invasion of the Netherlands was completely
achieved. The French army, masters of the Meuse and the Scheldt, went into
their winter quarters, after driving beyond the Roër the Austrians, whom
they might have pushed beyond the Lower Rhine.

From this moment hostilities began between Dumouriez and the Jacobins. A
decree of the convention, dated the 15th of September, abrogated the
Belgian customs, and democratically organized that country. The Jacobins
sent agents to Belgium to propagate revolutionary principles, and
establish clubs on the model of the parent society; but the Flemings, who
had received us with enthusiasm, became cool at the heavy demands made
upon them, and at the general pillage and insupportable anarchy which the
Jacobins brought with them. All the party that had opposed the Austrian
army, and hoped to be free under the protection of France, found our rule
too severe, and regretted having sought our aid, or supported us.
Dumouriez, who had projects of independence for the Flemings, and of
ambition for himself, came to Paris to complain of this impolitic conduct
with regard to the conquered countries. He changed his hitherto equivocal
course; he had employed every means to keep on terms with the two
factions; he had ranged himself under the banner of neither, hoping to
make use of the Right through his friend Gensonné, and the Mountain
through Danton and Lacroix, whilst he awed both by his victories. But in
this second journey he tried to stop the Jacobins and save Louis XVI.; not
having been able to attain his end, he returned to the army to begin the
second campaign, very dissatisfied, and determined to make his new
victories the means of suspending the revolution and changing its

This time all the frontiers of France were to be attacked by the European
powers. The military successes of the revolution, and the catastrophe of
the 21st of January, had made most of the undecided or neutral governments
join the coalition.

The court of St. James', on learning the death of Louis XVI., dismissed
the ambassador Chauvelin, whom it had refused to acknowledge since the
10th of August and the dethronement of the king. The convention, finding
England already leagued with the coalition, and consequently all its
promises of neutrality vain and elusive, on the 1st of February, 1793,
declared war against the king of Great Britain and the stadtholder of
Holland, who had been entirely guided by the English cabinet since 1788.
England had hitherto preserved the appearances of neutrality, but it took
advantage of this opportunity to appear on the scene of hostilities. For
some time disposed for a rupture, Pitt employed all his resources, and in
the space of six months concluded seven treaties of alliance, and six
treaties of subsidies. [Footnote: These treaties were as follows: the 4th
March, articles between Great Britain and Hanover; 25th March, treaty of
alliance at London between Russia and Great Britain; 10th April, treaty of
subsidies with the landgrave of Hesse Cassel; 25th April, treaty of
subsidies with Sardinia; 25th May, treaty of alliance at Madrid with
Spain; 12th July, treaty of alliance with Naples, the kingdom of the Two
Sicilies; 14th July, treaty of alliance at the camp before Mayence with
Prussia; 30th August, treaty of alliance at London with the emperor; 21st
September, treaty of subsidies with the margrave of Baden; 26th September,
treaty of alliance at London with Portugal. By these treaties England gave
considerable subsidies, more especially to Austria and Prussia.] England
thus became the soul of the coalition against France; her fleets were
ready to sail; the minister had obtained 3,200,000l. extraordinary, and
Pitt designed to profit by our revolution by securing the preponderance of
Great Britain, as Richelieu and Mazarin had taken advantage of the crisis
in England in 1640, to establish the French domination in Europe. The
court of St. James' was only influenced by motives of English interests;
it desired at any cost to effect the consolidation of the aristocratical
power at home, and the exclusive empire in the two Indies, and on the

The court of St. James' then made the second levy of the coalition. Spain
had just undergone a ministerial change; the famous Godoy, duke of
Alcudia, afterwards Prince of the Peace, had been placed at the head of
the government by means of an intrigue of England and the emigrants. This
power came to a rupture with the republic, after having interceded in vain
for Louis XVI., and made its neutrality the price of the life of the king.
The German empire entirely adopted the war; Bavaria, Suabia, and the
elector palatine joined the hostile circles of the empire. Naples followed
the example of the Holy See; and the only neutral powers were Venice,
Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Turkey. Russia was still engaged with
the second partition of Poland.

The republic was threatened on all sides by the most warlike troops of
Europe. It would soon have to face forty-five thousand Austro-Sardinians
in the Alps; fifty thousand Spaniards on the Pyrenees; seventy thousand
Austrians or Imperialists, reinforced by thirty-eight thousand English and
Dutch troops, on the Lower Rhine and in Belgium; thirty-three thousand
four hundred Austrians between the Meuse and the Moselle; a hundred and
twelve thousand six hundred Prussians, Austrians and Imperialists on the
Middle and Upper Rhine. In order to confront so many enemies, the
convention decreed a levy of three hundred thousand men. This measure of
external defence was accompanied by a party measure for the interior. At
the moment the new battalions, about to quit Paris, presented themselves
to the assembly, the Mountain demanded the establishment of an
extraordinary tribunal to maintain the revolution at home, which the
battalions were going to defend on the frontiers. This tribunal, composed
of nine members, was to try without jury or appeal. The Girondists arose
with all their power against so arbitrary and formidable an institution,
but it was in vain; for they seemed to be favouring the enemies of the
republic by rejecting a tribunal intended to punish them. All they
obtained was the introduction of juries into it, the removal of some
violent men, and the power of annulling its acts, as long as they
maintained any influence.

The principal efforts of the coalition were directed against the vast
frontier extending from the north sea to Huninguen. The prince of Coburg,
at the head of the Austrians, was to attack the French army on the Roër
and the Meuse, to enter Belgium; while the Prussians, on the other point,
should march against Custine, give him battle, surround Mayence, and after
taking it, renew the preceding invasion. These two armies of operation
were sustained in the intermediate position by considerable forces.
Dumouriez, engrossed by ambitious and reactionary designs, at a moment
when he ought only to have thought of the perils of France, proposed to
himself to re-establish the monarchy of 1791, in spite of the convention
and Europe. What Bouillé could not do for an absolute, nor Lafayette for a
constitutional throne, Dumouriez, at a less propitious time, hoped alone
to carry through in the interest of a destroyed constitution and a
monarchy without a party. Instead of remaining neutral among factions, as
circumstances dictated to a general, and even to an ambitious man,
Dumouriez preferred a rupture, in order to sway them. He conceived a
design of forming a party out of France; of entering Holland by means of
the Dutch republicans opposed to the stadtholdership, and to English
influence; to deliver Belgium from the Jacobins; to unite these countries
in a single independent state, and secure for himself their political
protectorate after having acquired all the glory of a conqueror. To
intimidate parties, he was to gain over his troops, march on the capital,
dissolve the convention, put down popular meetings, re-establish the
constitution of 1791, and give a king to France.

This project, impracticable amidst the great shock between the revolution
and Europe, appeared easy to the fiery and adventurous Dumouriez. Instead
of defending the line, threatened from Mayence to the Roër, he threw
himself on the left of the operations, and entered Holland at the head of
twenty thousand men. By a rapid march he was to reach the centre of the
United Provinces, attack the fortresses from behind, and be joined at
Nymegen by twenty-five thousand men under General Miranda, who would
probably have made himself master of Maestricht. An army of forty thousand
men was to observe the Austrians and protect his right.

Dumouriez vigorously prosecuted his expedition into Holland; he took Breda
and Gertruydenberg, and prepared to pass the Biesbos, and capture
Dordrecht. But the army of the right experienced in the meantime the most
alarming reverses on the Lower Meuse. The Austrians assumed the offensive,
passed the Roër, beat Miazinski at Aix-la-Chapelle; made Miranda raise the
blockade of Maestricht, which he had uselessly bombarded; crossed the
Meuse, and at Liège put our army, which had fallen back between Tirlemont
and Louvain, wholly to the rout. Dumouriez received from the executive
council orders to leave Holland immediately, and to take the command of
the troops in Belgium; he was compelled to obey, and to renounce in part
his wildest but dearest hopes.

The Jacobins, at the news of these reverses, became much more intractable;
unable to conceive a defeat without treachery, especially after the
brilliant and unexpected victories of the last campaign, they attributed
these military disasters to party combinations. They denounced the
Girondists, the ministers, and generals who, they supposed, had combined
to abandon the republic, and clamoured for their destruction. Rivalry
mingled with suspicion, and they desired as much to acquire an exclusive
domination, as to defend the threatened territory; they began with the
Girondists. As they had not yet accustomed the multitude to the idea of
the proscription of representatives, they at first had recourse to a plot
to get rid of them; they resolved to strike them in the convention, where
they would all be assembled, and the night of the 10th of March was fixed
on for the execution of the plot. The assembly sat permanently on account
of the public danger. It was decided on the preceding day at the Jacobins
and Cordeliers to shut the barriers, sound the tocsin, and march in two
bands on the convention and the ministers. They started at the appointed
hour, but several circumstances prevented the conspirators from
succeeding. The Girondists, apprised, did not attend the evening sitting;
the sections declared themselves opposed to the plot, and Beurnonville,
minister for war, advanced against them at the head of a battalion of
Brest federalists; these unexpected obstacles, together with the ceaseless
rain, obliged the conspirators to disperse. The next day Vergniaud
denounced the insurrectional committee who had projected these murders,
demanded that the executive council should be commissioned to make
inquiries respecting the conspiracy of the 10th of March, to examine the
registers of the clubs, and to arrest the members of the insurrectional
committee. "We go," said he, "from crimes to amnesties, from amnesties to
crimes. Numbers of citizens have begun to confound seditious insurrections
with the great insurrection of liberty; to look on the excitement of
robbers as the outburst of energetic minds, and robbery itself as a
measure of general security. We have witnessed the development of that
strange system of liberty, in which we are told: 'you are free; but think
with us, or we will denounce you to the vengeance of the people; you are
free, but bow down your head to the idol we worship, or we will denounce
you to the vengeance of the people; you are free, but join us in
persecuting the men whose probity and intelligence we dread, or we will
denounce you to the vengeance of the people.' Citizens, we have reason to
fear that the revolution, like Saturn, will devour successively all its
children, and only engender despotism and the calamities which accompany
it." These prophetic words produced some effect in the assembly; but the
measures proposed by Vergniaud led to nothing.

The Jacobins were stopped for a moment by the failure of their first
enterprise against their adversaries; but the insurrection of La Vendée
gave them new courage. The Vendéan war was an inevitable event in the
revolution. This country, bounded by the Loire and the sea, crossed by few
roads, sprinkled with villages, hamlets, and manorial residences, had
retained its ancient feudal state. In La Vendée there was no civilization
or intelligence, because there was no middle class; and there was no
middle class because there were no towns, or very few. At that time the
peasants had acquired no other ideas than those few communicated to them
by the priests, and had not separated their interests from those of the
nobility. These simple and sturdy men, devotedly attached to the old state
of things, did not understand a revolution, which was the result of a
faith and necessities entirely foreign to their situation. The nobles and
priests, being strong in these districts, had not emigrated; and the
ancient regime really existed there, because there were its doctrines and
its society. Sooner or later, a war between France and La Vendée,
countries so different, and which had nothing in common but language, was
inevitable. It was inevitable that the two fanaticisms of monarchy and of
popular sovereignty, of the priesthood and human reason, should raise
their banners against each other, and bring about the triumph of the old
or of the new civilization.

Partial disturbances had taken place several times in La Vendée. In 1792
the count de la Rouairie had prepared a general rising, which failed on
account of his arrest; but all yet remained ready for an insurrection,
when the decree for raising three hundred thousand men was put into
execution. This levy became the signal of revolt. The Vendéans beat the
gendarmerie at Saint Florent, and took for leaders, in different
directions, Cathelineau, a waggoner, Charette, a naval officer, and
Stofflet, a gamekeeper. Aided by arms and money from England, the
insurrection soon overspread the country; nine hundred communes flew to
arms at the sound of the tocsin; and then the noble leaders Bonchamps,
Lescure, La Rochejaquelin, d'Elbée, and Talmont, joined the others. The
troops of the line and the battalions of the national guard who advanced
against the insurgents were defeated. General Marcé was beaten at Saint
Vincent by Stofflet; general Gauvilliers at Beaupréau, by d'Elbée and
Bonchamps; general Quetineau at Aubiers, by La Rochejaquelin; and general
Ligonnier at Cholet. The Vendéans, masters of Châtillon, Bressuire, and
Vihiers, considered it advisable to form some plan of organization before
they pushed their advantages further. They formed three corps, each from
ten to twelve thousand strong, according to the division of La Vendée,
under three commanders; the first, under Bonchamps, guarded the banks of
the Loire, and was called the _Armée d'Anjou_; the second, stationed in
the centre, formed the _Grande armée_ under d'Elbée; the third, in Lower
Vendée, was styled the _Armée du Marais_, under Charette. The insurgents
established a council to determine their operations, and elected
Cathelineau generalissimo. These arrangements, with this division of the
country, enabled them to enrol the insurgents, and to dismiss them to
their fields, or call them to arms.

The intelligence of this formidable insurrection drove the convention to
adopt still more rigorous measures against priests and emigrants. It
outlawed all priests and nobles who took part in any gathering, and
disarmed all who had belonged to the privileged classes. The former
emigrants were banished for ever; they could not return, under penalty of
death; their property was confiscated. On the door of every house, the
names of all its inmates were to be inscribed; and the revolutionary
tribunal, which had been adjourned, began its terrible functions.

At the same time, tidings of new military disasters arrived, one after the
other. Dumouriez, returned to the army of Belgium, concentrated all his
forces to resist the Austrian general, the prince of Coburg. His troops
were greatly discouraged, and in want of everything; he wrote to the
convention a threatening letter against the Jacobins, who denounced him.
After having again restored to his army a part of its former confidence by
some minor advantages, he ventured a general action at Neerwinden, and
lost it. Belgium was evacuated, and Dumouriez, placed between the
Austrians and Jacobins, beaten by the one and assailed by the other, had
recourse to the guilty project of defection, in order to realize his
former designs. He had conferences with Colonel Mack, and agreed with the
Austrians to march upon Paris for the purpose of re-establishing the
monarchy, leaving them on the frontiers, and having first given up to them
several fortresses as a guarantee. It is probable that Dumouriez wished to
place on the constitutional throne the young duc de Chartres, who had
distinguished himself throughout this campaign; while the prince of Coburg
hoped that if the counter-revolution reached that point, it would be
carried further and restore the son of Louis XVI. and the ancient
monarchy. A counter-revolution will not halt any more than a revolution;
when once begun, it must exhaust itself. The Jacobins were soon informed
of Dumouriez's arrangements; he took little precaution to conceal them;
whether he wished to try his troops, or to alarm his enemies, or whether
he merely followed his natural levity. To be more sure of his designs, the
Jacobin club sent to him a deputation, consisting of Proly, Péreira, and
Dubuisson, three of its members. Taken to Dumouriez's presence, they
received from him more admissions than they expected: "The convention,"
said he, "is an assembly of seven hundred and thirty-five tyrants. While I
have four inches of iron I will not suffer it to reign and shed blood with
the revolutionary tribunal it has just created; as for the republic," he
added, "it is an idle word. I had faith in it for three days. Since
Jemappes, I have deplored all the successes I obtained in so bad a cause.
There is only one way to save the country--that is, to re-establish the
constitution of 1791, and a king." "Can you think of it, general?" said
Dubuisson; "the French view royalty with horror--the very name of Louis--"
"What does it signify whether the king be called Louis, Jacques, or
Philippe?" "And what are your means?" "My army--yes, my army will do it,
and from my camp, or the stronghold of some fortress, it will express its
desire for a king." "But your project endangers the safety of the
prisoners in the Temple." "Should the last of the Bourbons be killed, even
those of Coblentz, France shall still have a king, and if Paris were to
add this murder to those which have already dishonoured it, I would
instantly march upon it." After thus unguardedly disclosing his
intentions, Dumouriez proceeded to the execution of his impracticable
design. He was really in a very difficult position; the soldiers were very
much attached to him, but they were also devoted to their country. He was
to surrender some fortresses which he was not master of, and it was to be
supposed that the generals under his orders, either from fidelity to the
republic, or from ambition, would treat him as he had treated Lafayette.
His first attempt was not encouraging; after having established himself at
Saint Amand, he essayed to possess himself of Lille, Condé, and
Valenciennes; but failed in this enterprise. The failure made him
hesitate, and prevented his taking the initiative in the attack.

It was not so with the convention; it acted with a promptitude, a
boldness, a firmness, and, above all, with a precision in attaining its
object, which rendered success certain. When we know what we want, and
desire it strongly and speedily, we nearly always attain our object. This
quality was wanting in Dumouriez, and the want impeded his audacity and
deterred his partisans. As soon as the convention was informed of his
projects, it summoned him to its bar. He refused to obey; without,
however, immediately raising the standard of revolt. The convention
instantly despatched four representatives: Camus, Quinette, Lamarque,
Bancal, and Beurnonville, the war minister, to bring him before it, or to
arrest him in the midst of his army. Dumouriez received the commissioners
at the head of his staff. They presented to him the decree of the
convention; he read it and returned it to them, saying that the state of
his army would not admit of his leaving it. He offered to resign, and
promised in a calmer season to demand judges himself, and to give an
account of his designs and of his conduct. The commissioners tried to
induce him to submit, quoting the example of the ancient Roman generals.
"We are always mistaken in our quotations," he replied; "and we disfigure
Roman history by taking as an excuse for our crimes the example of their
virtues. The Romans did not kill Tarquin; the Romans had a well ordered
republic and good laws; they had neither a Jacobin club nor a
revolutionary tribunal. We live in a time of anarchy. Tigers wish for my
head; I will not give it them." "Citizen general," said Camus then, "will
you obey the decree of the national convention, and repair to Paris?" "Not
at present." "Well, then, I declare that I suspend you; you are no longer
a general; I order your arrest." "This is too much," said Dumouriez; and
he had the commissioners arrested by German hussars, and delivered them as
hostages to the Austrians. After this act of revolt he could no longer
hesitate. Dumouriez made another attempt on Condé, but it succeeded no
better than the first. He tried to induce the army to join him, but was
forsaken by it. The soldiers were likely for a long time to prefer the
republic to their general; the attachment to the revolution was in all its
fervour, and the civil power in all its force. Dumouriez experienced, in
declaring himself against the convention, the fate which Lafayette
experienced when he declared himself against the legislative assembly, and
Bouillé when he declared against the constituent assembly. At this period,
a general, combining the firmness of Bouillé with the patriotism and
popularity of Lafayette, with the victories and resources of Dumouriez,
would have failed as they did. The revolution, with the movement imparted
to it, was necessarily stronger than parties, than generals, and than
Europe. Dumouriez went over to the Austrian camp with the duc de Chartres,
colonel Thouvenot, and two squadrons of Berchiny. The rest of his army
went to the camp at Famars, and joined the troops commanded by Dampierre.

The convention, on learning the arrest of the commissioners, established
itself as a permanent assembly, declared Dumouriez a traitor to his
country, authorized any citizen to attack him, set a price on his head,
decreed the famous committee of public safety, and banished the duke of
Orleans and all the Bourbons from the republic. Although the Girondists
had assailed Dumouriez as warmly as the Mountain, they were accused of
being his accomplices, and this was a new cause of complaint added to the
rest. Their enemies became every day more powerful; and it was in moments
of public danger that they were especially dangerous. Hitherto, in the
struggle between the two parties, they had carried the day on every point.
They had stopped all inquiries into the massacres of September; they had
maintained the usurpation of the commune; they had obtained, first the
trial, then the death of Louis XVI.; through their means the plunderings
of February and the conspiracy of the 10th of March, had remained
unpunished; they had procured the erection of the revolutionary tribunal
despite the Girondists; they had driven Roland from the ministry, in
disgust; and they had just defeated Dumouriez. It only remained now to
deprive the Girondists of their last asylum--the assembly; this they set
about on the 10th of April, and accomplished on the 2nd of June.

Robespierre attacked by name Brissot, Guadet, Vergniaud, Pétion, and
Gensonné, in the convention; Marat denounced them in the popular
societies. As president of the Jacobins, he wrote an address to the
departments, in which he invoked the thunder of petitions and accusations
against the traitors and faithless delegates who had sought to save the
tyrant by an appeal to the public or his imprisonment. The Right and the
Plain of the convention felt that it was necessary to unite. Marat was
sent before the revolutionary tribunal. This news set the clubs in motion,
the people, and the commune. By way of reprisal, Pache, the mayor, came in
the name of the thirty-five sections and of the general council, to demand
the expulsion of the principal Girondists. Young Boyer Fonfrède required
to be included in the proscription of his colleagues, and the members of
the Right and the Plain rose, exclaiming, "All! all!" This petition,
though declared calumnious, was the first attack upon the convention from
without, and it prepared the public mind for the destruction of the

The accusation of Marat was far from intimidating the Jacobins who
accompanied him to the revolutionary tribunal. Marat was acquitted, and
borne in triumph to the assembly. From that moment the approaches to the
hall were thronged with daring sans-culottes, and the partisans of the
Jacobins filled the galleries of the convention. The clubists and
Robespierre's _tricoteuses_ (knitters) constantly interrupted the speakers
of the Right, and disturbed the debate; while without, every opportunity
was sought to get rid of the Girondists. Henriot, commandant of the
section of sans-culottes, excited against them the battalions about to
march for La Vendée. Gaudet then saw that it was time for something more
than complaints and speeches; he ascended the tribune. "Citizens," said
he, "while virtuous men content themselves with bewailing the misfortunes
of the country, conspirators are active for its ruin. With Caesar they
say: 'Let them talk, we will act.' Well, then, do you act also. The evil
consists in the impunity of the conspirators of the 10th of March; the
evil is in anarchy; the evil is in the existence of the authorities of
Paris--authorities striving at once for gain and dominion. Citizens, there
is yet time; you may save the republic and your compromised glory. I
propose to abolish the Paris authorities, to replace within twenty-four
hours the municipality by the presidents of the sections, to assemble the
convention at Bourges with the least possible delay, and to transmit this
decree to the departments by extraordinary couriers." The Mountain was
surprised for a moment by Guadet's motion. Had his measures been at once
adopted, there would have been an end to the domination of the commune,
and to the projects of the conspirators; but it is also probable that the
agitation of parties would have brought on a civil war, that the
convention would have been dissolved by the assembly at Bourges, that all
centre of action would have been destroyed, and that the revolution would
not have been sufficiently strong to contend against internal struggles
and the attacks of Europe. This was what the moderate party in the
assembly feared. Dreading anarchy if the career of the commune was not
stopped, and counter-revolution if the multitude were too closely kept
down, its aim was to maintain the balance between the two extremes of the
convention. This party comprised the committees of general safety and of
public safety. It was directed by Barrère, who, like all men of upright
intentions but weak characters, advocated moderation so long as fear did
not make him an instrument of cruelty and tyranny. Instead of Guadet's
decisive measures, he proposed to nominate an extraordinary commission of
twelve members, deputed to inquire into the conduct of the municipality;
to seek out the authors of the plots against the national representatives,
and to secure their persons. This middle course was adopted; but it left
the commune in existence, and the commune was destined to triumph over the

The Commission of Twelve threw the members of the commune into great alarm
by its inquiries. It discovered a new conspiracy, which was to be put into
execution on the 22nd of May, and arrested some of the conspirators, and
among others, Hébert, the deputy recorder, author of _Père Duchesne_, who
was taken in the very bosom of the municipality. The commune, at first
astounded, began to take measures of defence. From that moment, not
conspiracy, but insurrection was the order of the day. The general
council, encouraged by the Mountain, surrounded itself with the agitators
of the capital; it circulated a report that the Twelve wished to purge the
convention, and to substitute a counter-revolutionary tribunal for that
which had acquitted Marat. The Jacobins, the Cordeliers, the sections sat
permanently. On the 26th of May, the agitation became perceptible; on the
27th; it was sufficiently decided to induce the commune to open the
attack. It accordingly appeared before the convention and demanded the
liberation of Hébert and the suppression of the Twelve; it was accompanied
by the deputies of the sections, who expressed the same desire, and the
hall was surrounded by a large mob. The section of the City even presumed
to require that the Twelve should be brought before the revolutionary
tribunal. Isnard, president of the assembly, replied in a solemn tone:
"Listen to what I am about to say. If ever by one of those insurrections,
of such frequent recurrence since the 10th of March, and of which the
magistrates have never apprised the assembly, a hostile hand be raised
against the national representatives, I declare to you in the name of all
France, Paris will be destroyed. Yes, universal France would rise to
avenge such a crime, and soon it would be matter of doubt on which side of
the Seine Paris had stood." This reply became the signal for great tumult.
"And I declare to you," exclaimed Danton, "that so much impudence begins
to be intolerable; we will resist you." Then turning to the Right, he
added: "No truce between the Mountain and the cowards who wished to save
the tyrant."

The utmost confusion now reigned in the hall. The strangers' galleries
vociferated denunciations of the Right; the Mountain broke forth into
menaces; every moment deputations arrived without, and the convention was
surrounded by an immense multitude. A few sectionaries of the Mail and of
the Butte-des-Moulins, commanded by Raffet, drew up in the passages and
avenues to defend it. The Girondists withstood, as long as they could, the
deputations and the Mountain. Threatened within, besieged without, they
would have availed themselves of this violence to arouse the indignation
of the assembly. But the minister of the interior, Garat, deprived them of
this resource. Called upon to give an account of the state of Paris, he
declared that the convention had nothing to fear; and the opinion of
Garat, who was considered impartial, and whose conciliatory turn of mind
involved him in equivocal proceedings, emboldened the members of the
Mountain. Isnard was obliged to resign the chair, which was taken by
Hérault de Séchelles, a sign of victory for the Mountain. The new
president replied to the petitioners, whom Isnard had hitherto kept in the
background. "The power of reason and the power of the people are the same
thing. You demand from us a magistrate and justice. The representatives of
the people will give you both." It was now very late; the Right was
discouraged, some of its members had left. The petitioners had moved from
the bar to the seats of the representatives, and there, mixed up with the
Mountain, with outcry and disorder, they voted, all together, for the
dismissal of the Twelve, and the liberation of the prisoners. It was at
half-past twelve, amidst the applause of the galleries and the people
outside, that this decree was passed.

It would, perhaps, have been wise on the part of the Girondists, since
they were really not the strongest party, to have made no recurrence to
this matter. The movement of the preceding day would have had no other
result than the suppression of the Twelve, if other causes had not
prolonged it. But animosity had attained such a height, that it had become
necessary to bring the quarrel to an issue; since the two parties could
not endure each other, the only alternative was for them to fight; they
must needs go on from victory to defeat, and from defeat to victory,
growing more and more excited every day, until the stronger finally
triumphed over the weaker party. Next day, the Right regained its position
in the convention, and declared the decree of the preceding day illegally
passed, in tumult and under compulsion, and the commission was re-
established. "You yesterday," said Danton, "did a great act of justice;
but I declare to you, if the commission retains the tyrannical power it
has hitherto exercised; if the magistrates of the people are not restored
to their functions; if good citizens are again exposed to arbitrary
arrest; then, after having proved to you that we surpass our enemies in
prudence, in wisdom, we shall surpass them in audacity and revolutionary
vigour." Danton feared to commence the attack; he dreaded the triumph of
the Mountain as much as he did that of the Girondists: he accordingly
sought, by turns, to anticipate the 31st of May, and to moderate its
results. But he was reduced to join his own party during the conflict, and
to remain silent after the victory.

The agitation, which had been a little allayed by the suppression of the
Twelve, became threatening at the news of their restoration. The benches
of the sections and popular societies resounded with invectives, with
cries of danger, with calls to insurrection. Hébert, having quitted his
prison, reappeared at the commune. A crown was placed on his brow, which
he transferred to the bust of Brutus, and then rushed to the Jacobins to
demand vengeance on the Twelve. Robespierre, Marat, Danton, Chaumette, and
Pache then combined in organising a new movement. The insurrection was
modelled on that of the 10th of August. The 29th of May was occupied in
preparing the public mind. On the 30th, members of the electoral college,
commissioners of the clubs, and deputies of sections assembled at the
Evêché, declared themselves in a state of insurrection, dissolved the
general council of the commune, and immediately reconstituted it, making
it take a new oath; Henriot received the title of commandant-general of
the armed force, and the sans-culottes were assigned forty sous a day
while under arms. These preparations made, early on the morning of the
31st the tocsin rang, the drums beat to arms, the troops were assembled,
and all marched towards the convention, which for some time past had held
its sittings at the Tuileries.

The assembly had met at the sound of the tocsin. The minister of the
interior, the administrators of the department, and the mayor of Paris had
been summoned, in succession, to the bar. Garat had given an account of
the agitated state of Paris, but appeared to apprehend no dangerous
result. Lhuillier, in the name of the department, declared it was only a
_moral_ insurrection. Pache, the mayor, appeared last, and informed them,
with an hypocritical air, of the operations of the insurgents; he
pretended that he had employed every means to maintain order; assured them
that the guard of the convention had been doubled, and that he had
prohibited the firing of the alarm cannon; yet, at the same moment, the
cannon was heard in the distance. The surprise and excitement of the
assembly were extreme. Cambon exhorted the members to union, and called
upon the people in the strangers' gallery to be silent. "Under these
extraordinary circumstances," said he, "the only way of frustrating the
designs of the malcontents is to make the national convention respected."
"I demand," said Thuriot, "the immediate abolition of the Commission of
Twelve." "And I," cried Tallien, "that the sword of the law may strike the
conspirators who profane the very bosom of the convention." The
Girondists, on their part, required that the audacious Henriot should be
called to the bar, for having fired the alarm cannon without the
permission of the convention. "If a struggle take place," said Vergniaud,
"be the success what it may, it will be the ruin of the republic. Let
every member swear to die at his post." The entire assembly rose,
applauding the proposition. Danton rushed to the tribune: "Break up the
Commission of Twelve! you have heard the thunder of the cannon. If you are
politic legislators, far from blaming the outbreak of Paris, you will turn
it to the profit of the republic, by reforming your own errors, by
dismissing your commission.--I address those," he continued, on hearing
murmurs around him, "who possess some political talent, not dullards, who
can only act and speak in obedience to their passions.--Consider the
grandeur of your aim; it is to save the people from their foes, from the
aristocrats, to save them from their own blind fury. If a few men, really
dangerous, no matter to what party they belong, should then seek to
prolong a movement, become useless, by your act of justice, Paris itself
will hurl them back into their original insignificance. I calmly, simply,
and deliberately demand the suppression of the commission, on political
grounds." The commission was violently attacked on one side, feebly
defended on the other; Barrère and the committee of public safety, who
were its creators proposed its suppression, in order to restore peace, and
to save the assembly from being left to the mercy of the multitude. The
moderate portion of the Mountain were about to adopt this concession, when
the deputations arrived. The members of the department, those of the
municipality, and the commissaries of sections, being admitted to the bar,
demanded not merely the suppression of the Twelve, but also the punishment
of the moderate members, and of all the Girondist chiefs.

The Tuileries was completely blockaded by the insurgents; and the presence
of their commissaries in the convention emboldened the extreme Mountain,
who were desirous of destroying the Girondist party. Robespierre, their
leader and orator, spoke: "Citizens, let us not lose this day in vain
clamours and unnecessary measures; this is, perhaps, the last day in which
patriotism will combat with tyranny. Let the faithful representatives of
the people combine to secure their happiness." He urged the convention to
follow the course pointed out by the petitioners, rather than that
proposed by the committee of public safety. He was thundering forth a
lengthened declamation against his adversaries, when Vergniaud interfered:
"Conclude this!"--"I am about to conclude, and against you! Against you,
who, after the revolution of the 10th of August, sought to bring to the
scaffold those who had effected it. Against you, who have never ceased in
a course which involved the destruction of Paris. Against you, who desired
to save the tyrant. Against you, who conspired with Dumouriez. Against
you, who fiercely persecuted the same patriots whose heads Dumouriez
demanded. Against you, whose criminal vengeance provoked those cries of
vengeance which you seek to make a crime in your victims. I conclude my
conclusion is--I propose a decree of accusation against all the
accomplices of Dumouriez, and against those who are indicated by the
petitioners." Notwithstanding the violence of this outbreak, Robespierre's
party were not victorious. The insurrection had only been directed against
the Twelve, and the committee of public safety, who proposed their
suppression prevailed over the commune. The assembly adopted the decree of
Barrère, which dissolved the Twelve, placed the public force in permanent
requisition, and, to satisfy the petitioners, directed the committee of
public safety to inquire into the conspiracies which they denounced. As
soon as the multitude surrounding the assembly was informed of these
measures, it received them with applause, and dispersed.

But the conspirators were not disposed to rest content with this half
triumph: they had gone further on the 30th of May than on the 29th; and on
the 2nd of June they went further than on the 31st of May. The
insurrection, from being moral, as they termed it, became personal; that
is to say, it was no longer directed against a power, but against the
deputies; it passed from Danton and the Mountain, to Robespierre, Marat,
and the commune. On the evening of the 31st, a Jacobin deputy said: "We
have had but half the game yet; we must complete it, and not allow the
people to cool." Henriot offered to place the armed force at the
disposition of the club. The insurrectional committee openly took up its
quarters near the convention. The whole of the 1st of June was devoted to
the preparation of a great movement. The commune wrote to the sections:
"Citizens, remain under arms: the danger of the country renders this a
supreme law." In the evening, Marat, who was the chief author of the 2nd
of June, repaired to the Hôtel de Ville, ascended the clock-tower himself,
and rang the tocsin; he called upon the members of the council not to
separate till they had obtained a decree of accusation against the
traitors and the "statesmen." A few deputies assembled at the convention,
and the conspirators came to demand the decree against the proscribed
parties; but they were not yet sufficiently strong to enforce it from the

The whole night was spent in making preparations; the tocsin rang, drums
beat to arms, the people gathered together. On Sunday morning, about eight
o'clock, Henriot presented himself to the general council, and declared to
his accomplices, in the name of the insurrectionary people, that they
would not lay down their arms until they had obtained the arrest of the
conspiring deputies. He then placed himself at the head of the vast crowd
assembled in the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, harangued them, and gave the
signal for their departure. It was nearly ten o'clock when the insurgents
reached the Place du Carrousel. Henriot posted round the château bands of
the most devoted men, and the convention was soon surrounded by eighty
thousand men, the greater part ignorant of what was required of them and
more disposed to defend than to attack the deputation.

The majority of the proscribed members had not proceeded to the assembly.
A few, courageous to the last, had come to brave the storm for the last
time. As soon as the sitting commenced, the intrepid Lanjuinais ascended
the tribune. "I demand," said he, "to speak respecting the general call to
arms now beating throughout Paris." He was immediately interrupted by
cries of "Down! down! He wants civil war! He wants a counter-revolution!
He calumniates Paris! He insults the people." Despite the threats, the
insults, the clamours of the Mountain and the galleries, Lanjuinais
denounced the projects of the commune and of the malcontents; his courage
rose with the danger. "You accuse us," he said, "of calumniating Paris!
Paris is pure; Paris is good; Paris is oppressed by tyrants who thirst for
blood and dominion." These words were the signal for the most violent
tumult; several Mountain deputies rushed to the tribune to tear Lanjuinais
from it; but he, clinging firmly to it, exclaimed, in accents of the most
lofty courage, "I demand the dissolution of all the revolutionist
authorities in Paris. I demand that all they have done during the last
three days may be declared null. I demand that all who would arrogate to
themselves a new authority contrary to law, be placed without the law, and
that every citizen be at liberty to punish them." He had scarcely
concluded, when the insurgent petitioners came to demand his arrest, and
that of his colleagues. "Citizens," said they, "the people are weary of
seeing their happiness still postponed; they leave it once more in your
hands; save them, or we declare that they will save themselves."

The Right moved the order of the day on the petition of the insurgents,
and the convention accordingly proceeded to the previous question. The
petitioners immediately withdrew in a menacing attitude; the strangers
quitted the galleries; cries to arms were shouted, and a great tumult was
heard without: "Save the people!" cried one of the Mountain. "Save your
colleagues, by decreeing their provisional arrest." "No, no!" replied the
Right, and even a portion of the Left. "We will all share their fate!"
exclaimed La Réveillère-Lépaux. The committee of public safety, called
upon to make a report, terrified at the magnitude of the danger, proposed,
as on the 31st of May, a measure apparently conciliatory, to satisfy the
insurgents, without entirely sacrificing the proscribed members. "The
committee," said Barrère, "appeal to the generosity and patriotism of the
accused members. It asks of them the suspension of their power,
representing to them that this alone can put an end to the divisions which
afflict the republic, can alone restore to it peace." A few among them
adopted the proposition. Isnard at once gave in his resignation;
Lanthénas, Dussaulx, and Fauchet followed his example; Lanjuinais would
not. He said: "I have hitherto, I believe, shown some courage; expect not
from me either suspension or resignation. When the ancients," he
continued, amidst violent interruption, "prepared a sacrifice, they
crowned the victim with flowers and chaplets, as they conducted it to the
altar; but they did not insult it." Barbaroux was as firm as Lanjuinais.
"I have sworn," he said, "to die at my post; I will keep my oath." The
conspirators of the Mountain themselves protested against the proposition
of the committee. Marat urged that those who make sacrifices should be
pure; and Billaud-Varennes demanded the trial of the Girondists, not their

While this was going on, Lacroix, a deputy of the Mountain, rushed into
the house, and to the tribune, and declared that he had been insulted at
the door, that he had been refused egress, and that the convention was no
longer free. Many of the Mountain expressed their indignation at Henriot
and his troops. Danton said it was necessary vigorously to avenge this
insult to the national majesty. Barrère proposed to the convention to
present themselves to the people. "Representatives," said he, "vindicate
your liberty; suspend your sitting; cause the bayonets that surround you
to be lowered." The whole convention arose, and set forth in procession,
preceded by its sergeants, and headed by the president, who was covered,
in token of his affliction. On arriving at a door on the Place du
Carrousel, they found there Henriot on horseback, sabre in hand. "What do
the people require?" said the president, Hérault de Séchelles; "the
convention is wholly engaged in promoting their happiness." "Hérault,"
replied Henriot, "the people have not risen to hear phrases; they require
twenty-four traitors to be given up to them." "Give us all up!" cried
those who surrounded the president. Henriot then turned to his people, and
exclaimed: "Cannoneers, to your guns." Two pieces were directed upon the
convention, who, retiring to the gardens, sought an outlet at various
points, but found all the issues guarded. The soldiers were everywhere
under arms. Marat ran through the ranks, encouraging and exciting them.
"No weakness," said he; "do not quit your posts till they have given them
up." The convention then returned within the house, overwhelmed with a
sense of their powerlessness, convinced of the inutility of their efforts,
and entirely subdued. The arrest of the proscribed members was no longer
opposed. Marat, the true dictator of the assembly, imperiously decided the
fate of its members. "Dussaulx," said he, "is an old twaddler, incapable
of leading a party; Lathénas is a poor creature, unworthy of a thought;
Ducos is merely chargeable with a few absurd notions, and is not at all a
man to become a counter-revolutionary leader. I require that these be
struck out of the list, and their names replaced by that of Valazé." These
names were accordingly struck out, and that of Valazé substituted, and the
list thus altered was agreed to, scarcely one half of the assembly taking
part in the vote.

These are the names of the illustrious men proscribed: the Girondists
Gensonné, Guadet, Brissot, Gorsas, Pétion, Vergniaud, Salles, Barbaroux,
Chambon, Buzot, Birotteau, Lidon, Rabaud, Lasource, Lanjuinais,
Grangeneuve, Lehardy, Lesage, Louvet, Valazé, Lebrun, minister of foreign
affairs, Clavières, minister of taxes; and the members of the Council of
Twelve, Kervelegan, Gardien, Rabaud Saint-Etienne, Boileau, Bertrand,
Vigée, Molleveau, Henri La Rivière, Gomaire, and Bergoing. The convention
placed them under arrest at their own houses, and under the protection of
the people. The order for keeping the assembly itself prisoners was at
once withdrawn, and the multitude dispersed, but from that moment the
convention ceased to be free.

Thus fell the Gironde party, a party rendered illustrious by great talents
and great courage, a party which did honour to the young republic by its


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